Dowry Deaths – Sreya Ayinala

To understand dowry deaths one must first understand dowry, dowry existed hundreds of years ago in ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Dowry is an ancient custom and tradition in many cultures, including the Hindu culture, in which the bride’s family gives gifts or money to the groom’s family during marriage. Dowry deaths are caused by disputes over the amount of dowry and usually result in the bride committing suicide, being murdered, or being greatly abused/ injured. Dowry deaths have been a rising problem in India and in the year 2012, 8,233 deaths were classified as dowry deaths calculating out to be one death per hour over dowry disputes.

The first key actor in the conflict of the dowry deaths is the bride who is oppressed. Women in India have a lower social status than men and are often not given an equal amount of rights as men. Men are considered better than woman and in some parts of India parents will even kill their baby if it is a girl, known as female infanticide. The custom in India is for the bride to go and live with her husband’s family after marriage and take a dowry of money and other goods for her in-laws family. When the bride refuses to give more dowry or her family is unable to provide any more dowry she is often tortured and in some cases killed. The bride can be burnt to death with kerosene (bride burning), drowned, poisoned, have acid thrown at her, driven to starvation, beaten to death, or she may hang herself.

The second key actor in the dispute is the husband and his parents/ in-laws, the oppressors. The husband and the bride’s in-laws normally demand more dowry, because they believe that since the bride will be living with them and they will be providing for her it is only proper for the bride’s family to help with that by giving a dowry. However when the bride’s family doesn’t provide the amount of dowry that the groom’s family wants the in-laws and husband usually use violence on the bride to try and get the money from the bride’s parents and then disguise it as an accident or suicide. The in-laws and husbands are driven with greed for more money and the idea that women are less important than men.

I believe that in order for dowry deaths to stop the Indian government needs to play a bigger role in preventing it. Though there are laws (Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961), which forbid dowry to be given or accepted it still happens all throughout India and this is due to the government’s blind eye that they have turned towards the situation. Even if there is a lot of evidence showing that a death was caused by a dowry dispute, local judges will rule it an accident, because of the corruption in India’s government. I also believe that pressure from the international community and the United Nations will help raise awareness and help stop dowry deaths. Another big factor to solving this problem is by educating girls and promoting women’s rights. If women are educated then they won’t need to depend on their husbands and will be able to support themselves.

Dowry deaths mainly happen in India, but they also occur in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. The image shows the distribution of dowry deaths throughout India and how affected each state is by this.

The picture shows how women are given monetary values and families must pay in order for their daughter to be married. The in-laws test the bride’s family to see how much their daughter is actually worth by asking for more dowry.


5 thoughts on “Dowry Deaths – Sreya Ayinala

  1. I thought you did a great job explaining dowry first to let the reader understand what the conflict had to deal with. I also thought you did a very good job explaining the two sides of the issue. It was interesting to me to find out that some people will kill their child if it is a girl. I was disgusted when I read the bride can be burned, drowned, poisoned, starved, beaten to death, hung, or have acid thrown at her if the brides family either won’t pay the dowry or are unable to pay it. I hope the United Nations will step into this problem and raise awareness to help stop dowry deaths. Finally I hope the Indian government will take these deaths more seriously and help end these deaths.


  2. This was a great investigation of Dowry deaths; I really enjoyed it! The state of women’s rights in South Asia is absolutely terrifying, and the numerous factors that support this tragedy (a lack of women’s education, the desire for male sons, and Hindu tradition of notable longevity) are not easily broken. However, your solution suggestions were very comprehensive and dissected the problem well. Its astounding that even after Ghandi’s demolition of the caste system and legislation meant to prevent this tragedy passed, the shackles of practice and status quo remain.


  3. Your post definitely gave me more insight on what exactly Dowry Death is, why it occurs, and what we can do to prevent it from happening. I knew these things in India were occurring due to the discussion we had in class on “Bride Burning”, but I didn’t quite grasp how often this occurs, and how big of an issue it was. It really frustrated me to read that the government is turning a blind eye to this issue, and even though it’s against the law, its not being enforced! I agree with you preposition of improving and providing women with education to stop this, because educating and empowering women is important! Oh, and I really found your post intriguing, YAY SREYA!


  4. I found this post extremely interesting, and over a topic that is immensely important. Dowry deaths are absolutely inhumane, and I agree with your suggestion to enforce international pressure towards the extinction of this issue. The unnecessary violence committed against brides in India and neighboring nations is such a significant issue, and must be stopped. It angers me that the government has become so corrupt that they turn a blind eye to this devastating problem. Education of women is vital, and I agree with you that education will result in less dependency on men. Women becoming able to support themselves is a crucial skill that will help end these dowry deaths! It is so sad to see women given monetary values, and being evaluated by the amount of money they can supply. I really enjoyed reading your post, it was by far my favorite! Great job!


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