Dowry cases double in 5 years

NEW DELHI: “It was a mistake to educate my daughter and send her to IIT. I should have saved all the money for her dowry,” said Manoj Devak, waiting outside a mortuary on a hot summer evening in late May as doctors carried out an autopsy on his daughter, Manjula. Less than 24 hours ago, Manjula, a civil engineer and a PhD scholar at the coveted IIT Delhi, hanged herself from the ceiling fan of her hostel room.

Manjula was among 54 women in Delhi who died between January and June after allegedly being bullied for more dowry, a toxic custom of brides’ families being forced to give gifts such as cash, cars and property to the groom. India outlawed the dowry tradition in 1961 but it continues to be as much a social reality as it was five decades ago.

According to Delhi Police statistics, dowry harassment allegations, filed under Indian penal code’s Section 498A almost doubled in five years, going from 2046 new cases in 2012 to 3877 last year. This is in contrast to the trend in other crimes such as murder, robbery, rape or dacoity, which decreased every year since 2012 or only had a marginal increase.

The number of unreported cases of dowry harassment could be sizeable too. Hindustan Times pored over all the 1330 first investigation reports (FIRs) filed for such cases in the first six months of this year, and found that the tradition cuts across demographics.

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14 August 2017