Rights of Women against Dowry and Domestic Violence
India is a progressive country with Women’s rights as time is changing. It is one of the first countries in the world which has give
n the Right to Vote without fighting, to recognize the participation of women in inheritance, Right to contest elections. Then why does the title suggests, Dowry and domestic violence? Why it has become a such burning issue nowadays? The pandemic has structured our lives and destroyed many,
the increase in domestic violence is one example of such destruction. The work-from-home culture has given an extra burden to womens’ life. The doubled responsibilities with caring for the health and doing work while maintaining good relations with a family member is a real struggle. But the concern of the Dowry system in India is old. The system is inherited from centuries but the cause is not just the reputation of the family of a woman but also societal pressure and ill-mentality of the groom’s family as well. The so-called standards of the marriage are decided by how much “gifts, goods, gold” is given to the groom and his relatives. This is where the problem for the bride’s family arrives, the law says if the unwilling gifts are given then only it’s a crime but the gifts given according to social norms are also a dowry. The lateral life after marriage can become miserable for a woman, just because of that one missing gift in the marriage ceremony. So how does the Law deal with this kind of situation in India? How dowry and domestic violence by husband and his relatives are inter-link to each other? Sometimes even well-educated families do commit a crime of domestic violence. The people who are against dowry are also behind bars for doing domestic violence. Even cases have been filed against women for false dowry cases. E.g. Nisha Sharma Lawsuit.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
The Act states that any possession or goods transferred between two-party (direct or indirect) without consent can be considered as dowry. Section 3 describes the punishment for giving or taking dowry, that minimum five years terms and Rs 15,000 or the value of dowry (whichever is greater). Section 4 suggests, demanding dowry is also a crime and a minimum of six months punishment which can be maximized up to five years, and a Rs 15,000 fine.
Dowry Under Indian Penal Code, 1980
The Penal Code is intended to prohibit dowry in addition to curb the violence related to it.
Below are the four circumstances in which Dowry under IPC, 1980 can be implemented:
IPC, Section 302(b),1980 is implemented under some circumstances such as woman is found dead with burn marks on her body, damaged body, or in an unnatural way. If such signs occurred within seven years of marriage, the mentioned code is implemented. Also, signs of harassment or injuries are noticed before death with witnesses can be considered here.
Cruelty to a woman by husband or husband’s relative
Section 488(a) of IPC, 1980 is used when domestic violence of extreme nature is committed. The coverage of this section is for both physical and mental violence torture which may lead to the death of a woman. Its punishment is imprisonment of three years and a fine.
International Death of a woman
If any person is causing the intentional death of a woman, concerning dowry, he/she is punishable under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1980.
Abetting Suicide of a woman
Under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1980, defines abetment of suicide of a person which includes the cases where the husband of a woman and the husband’s relatives creates and circumstances that led a woman to suicide. If this happens within seven years of marriage, it will be considered as abetment of suicide for dowry.
There are many ways to come out of such a system of societal norms. The first being changing the mentality of society by implementing gender-neutral morals in society. Gender equality should be taught in schools. Increasing awareness among women to know their rights and how the law is for them. The education system empowers a woman to be able to be financially independent. Allowing women to join forces can be another way to show the fruitful ways to the nation to respect women. Also, we need to prevent the misuse of these laws. The personal grudge or hunted past cannot be a reason to ruin the life of a partner. Also, the morality of human values needs to increase among people in society.
“Heathy society both morally and economically without societal pressure is the way towards a progressive future.”