THAT dowry violence is the highest contributor to violence against women is a poignant pointer to the deep-rooted patriarchy in society. As New Age reported on Wednesday quoting home ministry statistics, of the 16,722 cases filed under the Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Act in 2016, about 33.82 per cent were dowry-related while such cases accounted for 31.56 per cent of the 19,498 cases filed in 2015. In January 2017, dowry-related cases accounted for 30.63 per cent of the 1038 cases filed under the law. Rape and abduction were also two major crimes perpetrated against women in the period. The number of rape cases was 3,891 in 2015, 3,700 in 2016 and 232 in January 2017 while the figure for abduction cases was 3,966, 3,650 and 239 in respective periods. Moreover, 14 women and girls were killed after rape in 2016, and the figure was 28 in 2015. It is important to note that there are many cases, in which parents of the victims of domestic violence such as dowry violence do not report the incidents as they are settled outside the court for various reasons. As a result, there are reasons to believe that ground realities of dowry violence may be much worse.
There are a number of laws and an ordinance that criminalise dowry and related violence against women, stipulating stringent punishment. Yet, dowry violence prevails in an alarming manner. One can attribute the lack of enforcement of the law to the situation, for which lack of seriousness of law enforcers in dealing with such cases can be blamed. One can also hold the tendency of families of the victims, especially in rural areas, to seek solution outside the court as legal battles usually take too long to end and prove too costly. The tendency can also be blamed on the fact that laws dealing with crimes against women, like many others, are anything but victim-friendly while the absence of physical evidence and witnesses is common in most cases related to dowry violence, or any sort of domestic violence for that matter, which is enough for the victims to fear that they do not have the chance of winning the case.
In fact, ridding society of crimes against women, including dowry violence, will remain a distant hope as long as patriarchy that allows men to dominate women in all aspects of life will persist. In this context, building a vibrant social and cultural movement against violence against women and for establishing equal status for men and women at every level of the state and society has become urgent. However, it is also true that if the government overhauls the legal and judicial system to ensure speedy trial in cases of violence against women without delay, it will make a significant difference in the situation in question.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial