Women’s Court Kicks Off With Discussion on Dowry

BANGALORE: The spectrum of violence against women is widening. There are more than 25,000 dowry deaths a year and many are left maimed, scarred, and  a significant number of daughters disappear due to trafficking or prostitution.

On this note, the curtains went up on Daughters of Fire, an Indian court of women on dowry and related forms of violence, on Monday.

“India and China together eliminate more girls annually than the number of girls born in USA, and the forthcoming 2011 census will be worse as lakhs of girls are killed. The practice of sex selection and the increasing sale of ultrasound machines make them accessible even in remote tribal areas,” said Dr Sabu George, fellow, inter-cultural resources whose PIL before the Supreme Court led to the enactment of the PNDT Act.

Reviewing dowry, family and marriage in the context of growing economic and cultural fundamentalism, Gouri Choudhury from Action India, said:”Dowry Prohibition Act, 1964, was never enforced as we could not decide which party, the giver or the taker violated the law. Confusion reigned over the definition of dowry and gifts given voluntarily to daughters at the time of marriage.”

A study conducted by the NGO AIDWA in 14 states confirms the growing practice of giving and taking of dowry even among scheduled caste and tribes, influenced by market forces.

Nandini from NGO Jagori, said: “Violence is an inevitable part of a scenario where the superiority of the male is idolized and inferiority of the women is reinforced, and according to demographic and health surveys, 46% of married women with no education are much more likely than other women to have suffered from spousal violence.”

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According to National Crime Records Bureau 2007, there has been 6.2% increase in rates of cases filed under dowry deaths in the country.

Caroline Colaso from Bailancho Manch stressed on the grey areas in the Dowry Act and police being reluctant to register dowry harassment cases and delay in trial due lack of evidence resulting in frustration among the victims and family members.

Rukmini Rao from Gramya highlighted that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is progressive and had envisaged the creation of a cadre of protection officers. But this has not been fulfilled citing lack of funds, while there is huge increase in defence spending.

Rev. Francis Thonippara, president of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, was felicitated at the event.

The Christ College campus where the event was held had women activists, victims of violence, NGOs and students from across the country participating in the session.

Vanishing Daughters

Census 2001 sex ratio — 933:1,000

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2006 indicates a decline in child sex ration for rural areas — 921:1,000

NFHS shows one in every five women has faced domestic violence

“India and China together eliminate more girls annually than the number of girls born in USA, and the forthcoming 2011 census will be worse as lakhs of girls are killed. The practice of sex selection and the increasing sale of ultrasound machines make them accessible even in remote tribal areas.”
— Sabu George, fellow, inter-cultural resources

Violence is an inevitable part of a scenario where the superiority of the male is idolized and inferiority of the women is reinforced, and according to demographic and health surveys, 46% of married women with no education are much more likely than other women to have suffered from spousal violence.
— Nandini, Jagori

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