Dowry deaths are the deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. Dowry deaths are reported in various South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women (VAW) in South Asia.
Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire; this is known as "bride burning".
The Indian national crime bureau reports that there were about 6787 dowry death cases registered in India in 2005. Incidents of dowry deaths during the year 2005 (6,787) have increased significantly by 46.0 per cent over 1995 level (4,648). However, the increase was marginal (0.1%) over quinquennial average of 2000-2004 and there was a decline by 3.4 per cent (7,026) compared to year 2005.
Indian women's rights activists campaigned for more than 40 years to contain dowry deaths without much success. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and the more stringent Section 498a of IPC (enacted in 1983) did not achieve the desired result. Using the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005(PWDVA) implemented in 2006, a woman can put a stop to the dowry harassment by approaching a domestic violence protection officer. Due to demands by women's rights activists, the Indian government has modified property inheritance laws and permitted daughters to claim equal rights to their parental property. Some religious groups have urged the people to curb the extravagant spendings during the marriages.
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