December 11 2012
In India, a woman (or in some cases child) failing to bring wealth and a dowry to her in-law’s family can incite violence and even death.
In Allahabad, a pregnant mother named Sushila and her one and a half-year-old daughter were locked in a box and burned alive by her in-laws for failing to bring Rs 50,000 (about $921.49) and a motorcycle as dowry. Sushila had told her family that her in-laws had tortured and physically assaulted her for inadequate dowry, but that did not prevent her gruesome death.
Horrific violence over a bride’s dowry occurs all too often. Earlier this month, a mother and father-in-law in India only received a seven-year sentence and roughly $369 dollars each in fines for burning alive their daughter-in-law. Even more troublingly, the bride’s father had complained to police before the murder that his daughter – Paramijit – had been harassed, but that did not protect Paramijit from violence. She was kicked out of her home, and her father returned her, only to be burned alive. Her father had to watch her struggle for life in a hospital, just before passing away.
It’s a too common tale: Three months ago, in Assam, India, fifteen-year-old Purnima eloped with Sunil. But the couple’s happiness did not last. Sunil demanded $461 in dowry for to purchase a motorcycle. When Purnima was unable to produce the dowry, her husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law burned her alive.
Injustice, violence, and unhealthy gender relations plague India, a country struggling to pull millions out of poverty. This real war on women threatens the lives of women and must be condemned by the Indian government—and all of us.