Bride burning

''This article is about the practice of a form of domestic violence. For the American hard rock band, see 'Burning Brides'.''

Bride-burning is a form of domestic violence practiced in parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries located on or around the Indian subcontinent. In bride-burning cases it is alleged that a man, or his family, douses his wife with kerosene, gasoline, or other flammable liquid, and sets the woman alight, leading to death by fire.

Virendra Kumar and Sarita Kanth point out that bride burning has been recognized as an important public health problem in India. They say that it is a historical and cultural issue accounting for around 600-750 deaths per year in India alone. Bride burning, a category of dowry death, occurs when a young woman is murdered by her husband or his family for her family's refusal to pay additional dowry. In 1995 Time Magazine reported that dowry deaths in India increased from around 400 a year in the early 1980s to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s. A year later CNN ran a story saying that every year police receive more than 2,500 reports of bride burning.

Bride burning in South Asia

In India

Ashley K. Jutla MD, and Dr. David Heimbach MD, describe bride burning by saying that "the husband and/or in-laws have determined that the dowry, a gift given from the daughter's parents to the husband, was inadequate and therefore attempt to murder the new bride to make the husband available to remarry or to punish the bride and her family."

In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal.

In 1986, the Indian Parliament added "dowry deaths" as a new domestic violence crime. According to the new section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, where a bride, "within 7 years of her marriage is killed and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband, or any relative of her husband. or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called 'dowry death' and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death."

The offenders can be sentenced for any period from a minimum of 7 years in prison to a maximum of life. However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. A 1997 report claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional.

Suggestions to prevent bride burning are being developed, including: "an increase in the standard of education for women, which will encourage economic and emotional independence; proper implementation of existing laws along with new, stricter legislation to abolish dowry related crimes; and the establishment of voluntary associations to decrease the importance of dowries in general. Community-level programs are essential, and must include doctors, who bear special responsibilities to help change the social milieu in which this phenomenon occurs."

In Pakistan

Cases of bride burning have been reported in Pakistan. The Ansar Burney Trust International says that in some cases, accidents are engineered (such as tampering with a kitchen stove to cause victim's death) or the victims are set ablaze, and the attack is disguised as an accident or as suicide. According to an Amnesty International report in 1999, though 1,600 "bride-burning" were reported, sixty were prosecuted but only two resulted in convictions..


In Pakistan, women including Shahnaz Bukhari, the chief coordinator of the Progressive Women's Association, have been campaigning for protective legislations, women's shelters and hospitals with specialized burn wards. Although the government of Pakistan has rejected any legal prohibition against dowry and "honor" killings, there are indications that pressure from within, as well as from international human rights groups may be increasing the level of awareness within the Pakistani government.


Further reading

See also

External links

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This article is based on "Bride burning" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia ( It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: