DNA Exclusive: Dowry menace, penal provisions, and the cultural crime in Indian tradition

New Delhi: About one crore marriages take place in India every year and in 95 percent of these, dowry is given in some form or the other. On average, the amount of dowry starts between Rs 2 to 3 lakhs and it can go up to Rs 2 to 3 crore. That is, this dowry culture in India is at least Rs 5 to 10 lakh crore industry. This is more than the country’s budget for defense, health and education combined.

Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Wednesday (July 14) discussed the dowry menace and penal provisions associated with the cultural crime in Indian tradition.

India’s defense budget is about Rs 3.5 lakh crores. On average, one and a half thousand soldiers are martyred every year while protecting the country. But ironically, seven and a half thousand women are killed due to dowry. The country’s education budget is Rs 93,000 crore. But even after spending thousands of crores of rupees on education, India is not able to make people aware about dowry.

Kerala, the most educated state of India has become the new centre of this greed. According to a report published by the World Bank only last month, between 1960 and 2008, the amount of money spent on dowry in the state has increased by 400 percent.

The most recent and most talked about case of dowry harassment in Kerala is that of 24-year-old Vismaya who was a doctor by profession. She was married last year to 30-year-old Kiran Kumar, a resident of the Kollam district of Kerala. But last month, under suspicious circumstances, this 24-year-old woman died at her in-laws’ house.

Two days before her death, Vismaya had informed her family that she was being assaulted because of dowry. This woman had also sent pictures to her family members in which the marks of injury can be clearly seen on her body.

Vismaya’s family had given Kiran Kumar 800 grams of gold, a few acres of land and an expensive car as dowry. But even after this, they kept on demanding more money.

Vismaya’s husband, who is well educated and holds a decent position in the Motor Vehicles Department of Kerala, is currently in jail on charges of his wife’s murder.

The number of dowry deaths in Kerala has also increased. In the last 5 years, 66 women have been killed in Kerala because of dowry, while more than 15 thousand cases of dowry harassment have been registered.

The amount of dowry depends on the profession of the groom. If the groom is an IAS officer, then the amount of dowry can be between Rs 1 to 2 crore, if he does business or a good job in Dubai, this amount can be between Rs 50 lakh to 1 crore.

Under Section 498-A of the IPC, there is a provision for severe punishment to the criminals who take dowry. Under this, the guilty can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. However, only 15 percent of the cases of dowry harassment that reach the courts result in favour of the women.

The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had said that the man who demands dowry does not do a disservice to just his education but also towards his country and it is the biggest insult to women.

Today, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan observed a fast against dowry harassment. Khan had a special conversation with Zee News in which he said that unless everyone raises their voice against dowry, this wrong practice cannot be eradicated from the root.

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