POSTED: 03:30 a.m. HST, Sep 03, 2013
NEW DELHI (AP) — One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes, indicating that the country’s economic boom has made demands for dowries even more persistent, women’s rights activists said Tuesday.
The conviction rate in dowry-related crimes remained a low 32 percent, according to statistics the bureau published last week.
Indian law prohibits the giving or receiving of a dowry, but the centuries-old social custom persists.
Dowry demands often continue for years after the wedding. Each year, thousands of young Indian women are doused with gasoline and burned to death because the groom or his family felt the dowry was inadequate.
Women’s rights activists and police said that loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in dowry-related crimes.
Dowry demands have become even more insistent and expensive following India’s economic boom, said Ranjana Kumari, a women’s rights activist.
She blamed a growing culture of greed as India opens its economy to foreign goods that the younger generation cannot afford but badly want.
“Marriages have become commercialized. It’s like a business proposition where the groom and his family make exorbitant demands. And the wealthier the family, the more outrageous the demands,” Kumari said.
Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes in society. “Even highly educated people don’t say no to dowry,” she said.