Sree Krishna Janamasthaanam

Sree Krishna Janamasthaanam

The state of our prisons and the making of our Prison State

by Uma Challa

(Published by MyIndMakers)

IMG_1254-2

Media sensationalization of crimes against women is not new to India, neither is the diversely vociferous public response. Just within this decade, starting from “youth icon and female role model”, Nisha Sharma in 2003, all the way to “braveheart”, Jasleen Kaur, in 2015, we have witnessed several cases in which the media has held trials and pronounced “guilty” verdicts against the accused as soon as a complaint was lodged or an FIR was filed. We have witnessed the bloodthirsty lynching mob mentality of a sizable section of Indian public. In each instance, we have also heard quite a few sane voices on various forums, pleading the media and the public to exercise self-restraint and to allow the law of the land to take its course.

In the recent times, especially in the wake of the Rohtak sisters’ and Jasleen Kaur’s cases, enough has been said about the perils of media trials and ignorant demands for extrajudicial punishments. However, little has been said about what “law taking its course” means today, how it impacts the lives of the many who are accused, whether or not they are guilty of a crime. Much less has been said about how we have become a prison state by approving virtually every possible draconian law in the name of curbing crimes against women, condoning arbitrary arrests of ordinary citizens, and imprisoning them in deplorable conditions.

Here is the data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showing the number of arrests made under cognizable and non-bailable offences against women, the number of accused who were pronounced guilty by the end of year 2013 and the number of undertrials under the same laws, in prisons all over India at the end of year 2013.
PrisonData-2

As seen in the above table, a total of 3,90,038 people were arrested and jailed in one year, only under the above mentioned crimes against women.

There have been a total of 15,075 convictions in one year, which is a mere 3.86 percent of the total number of arrests made only within that year, under these specific crimes against women.

Ironically, a large percentage of prison population constitutes undertrials, meaning, they are in prison without being pronounced guilty. Most of them are under detention not because they might tamper with evidence nor because they are convicted (pending appeal or otherwise). Repeated adjournments of bail hearings due to an overload of cases in courts, poverty and the resultant inability to furnish the required surety, illiteracy and ignorance about legal procedures involved in obtaining bail, shoddy investigation and corruption are the main reasons which contribute to the indefinite detention or delays in release of the accused under bail. Every year, the largest number of undertrials spend upto 3 months in jail, and the number stood at 1,05,457 in year 2013 alone. In the same year, the number of undertrials who spent between 3-6 months in jail was 59,344 and the number that spent between 6-12 months in jail was 49,155. (NCRB statistics, 2013)

The total number of undertrials specifically under crimes against women (mentioned in the table above), in prisons all over India at the end of year 2013 is 40,739.

In essence, among the 55,814 inmates imprisoned for these specific crimes against women, 73 percent are undertrials. This is in accordance with the overall picture, whereby 68 percent of all Indian prison inmates, under every crime listed in the Indian Penal Code, are undertrials.

While the total available prison capacity in India is 3,47,859 inmates, the actual total occupancy of prisons in India is 4,11,992. Thus, there are an excess of 64,133 inmates in our entire prison system, and the total occupancy rate of Indian prisons stands at 118 percent. Not only are the prisons overcrowded, but they are also understaffed.

As a result, prisons, which are, in principle, meant for isolation, and if possible reformation of socially dangerous elements, have now become places for confinement of ordinary citizens accused of all sorts of crimes regardless of their nature or gravity. Unnecessary arrests and imprisonment, and overcrowding of jails, combined with insufficient prison staff and unbearable living conditions have made prisons breeding grounds for depression, anger and violence, not to mention infectious diseases too.

Due to the overburdened judiciary, there are thousands of undertrials who stay imprisoned for periods longer than the term prescribed as punishment for their crimes. Here, it would be useful to note that of the total number of cases pending during year 2013 (including cases pending trial from the previous year), only 15.2 percent of cases have been disposed off by courts (this figure includes cases which were compounded or withdrawn and cases which have resulted in convictions or acquittals). A whopping 84.8 percent of cases remain pending at the end of year 2013. (NCRB statistics, 2013)

Under these circumstances, taking advantage of legal loopholes and biases to have men thrown in prison merely based on a complaint, without evidence, investigation or trial, is one of the easiest methods to harass them. Viewed from the perspective of radical feminist masterminds behind women-centric laws, immediate arrests and incarceration provide instant “justice” (read revenge) to “victim” (read disgruntled) women. The widespread and growing tendency to get men jailed by hook or crook probably also reflects the Indian public’s loss of faith in the legal system, the police and the judiciary. In other words, we probably have extreme faith in the slowness and inefficiency of the system, and can imagine that once someone is pushed into a legal maelstrom, they will not get out of it easily, at least not without serious bruises to their spirit if not its complete annihilation.

The viciousness of our gender-biased laws is matched only by the audacity with which they are being abused every single day and the ignorance and apathy of the public, which turns a blind eye to such misuse. While the rampant misuse of laws is being instantaneously hailed as bravery and valour, sometimes even accompanied by announcement of rewards, the misery of many souls needlessly languishing in prisons is considered “law taking its course”, even by some of the most well meaning citizens, officials, opinion makers and leaders of our country.

Here, I must make an honest admission that I was one of the well-meaning but ignorant (if not downright apathetic) citizens myself. During my childhood, I remember people referring to the prison as “Sree Krishna Janmasthaanam”. I knew about Kamsa incarcerating Devaki and Vasudeva, not because they did any harm to him, his subjects or his kingdom, but only to escape the impending consequence of his own sins, namely, death in the hands of their divine child. Despite knowing this story of Krishna, for the longest time, I thought everyone inside the prison was a thief or a thug…but that’s only until I was granted the divine (and profoundly life changing) opportunity to visit prison myself. Ever since, and for almost  a decade now, I always look at a prison, not with fear or disdain, but with a certain melancholic fondness…I see “Sree Krishna Janmasthaanam”.

On the occasion of Sree Krishna Janmaashtami, I pray for the well-being and speedy release of all those who have been wrongly incarcerated in Indian prisons.

References:

Crime in India, 2013 – Compendium: http://ncrb.gov.in/CD-CII2013/compendium%202013.pdf

Prison Statistics India, 2013: http://ncrb.gov.in/PSI-2013/PrisonStat2013.htm

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Latest Amendments to the DP Act Encourage and Legalize Dowry

PRESS RELEASE

Sub: Latest Amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act Encourage and Legalize Dowry

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is moving a cabinet note seeking amendment in the existing provisions of the Dowry Prohibition (DP) Act of 1961. The amendments are expected to be placed before the cabinet for its approval at the end of January 2010 and likely to be tabled in the Parliament in the coming budget session.

The amendments include:
1.    Mandatory requirement for couples to notify the list of gifts exchanged during their wedding ceremony.
2.    The list of gifts, in the form of a sworn affidavit, has to be notarized, signed by a protection officer or a dowry prohibition officer and kept by both the parties.
3.    Failing to keep a list of gifts can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only the bride and the groom but also their parents.
4.    The penalty for dowry givers is reduced from five years of imprisonment to one year.
5.    The Domestic Violence Act will be linked with the DP Act for quick relief.
6.    The definition of dowry is widened by changing the word “in connection with marriage” to “given before the marriage, at the time of marriage and at any time after the marriage.”
7.    In case of a woman’s death, all property obtained as dowry would need to be reverted back to the parents of the woman or her children.

Sworn affidavit with a list of all gifts:
The new rule requiring a sworn affidavit accompanied by a list of gifts raises a lot of questions:
•    What is the legal purpose of this list and who does it benefit?
•    Does this sworn affidavit also serve as a declaration that no dowry or gifts were demanded by the husband and in-laws?
•    In the absence of such a declaration, how are the husband and in-laws protected from false allegations of dowry demand and harassment?
•    Who will ensure that this new rule is implemented given that the existing rules of the DP Act regarding dowry, gifts and marriage expenditure have not been implemented in the last 50 years?
•    Who is responsible for making sure that everyone is aware of the consequences of disobeying the rule?
•    Does ignorance of law work as an excuse to avoid punishment?

The most important question of all is this –
•    Is the affidavit with a list of “gifts” not a way of legalizing dowry?

Expansion of the definition of dowry:
The term dowry has not been clearly defined in the DP Act, and the proposed amendments do not add any clarity to the definition either. Instead, they only raise more questions and apprehensions.
•    How does one distinguish between dowry and gift?
•    What is the extent/value of “gifts” one can give?
•    When does a gift become dowry?
–    Does it happen when the marriage breaks down?
–    Does it happen when any gift is not listed in the affidavit?
–    Does it happen when the worth of the gift exceeds a certain monetary value?
–    Or is it at the discretion of the married woman and her family?
•    When the present definition of dowry itself is so unclear, what is the use of expanding the definition to items given before, during and at any time after marriage?
•    Should the parties file an affidavit at every instance gifts are exchanged at any time prior to, during and after marriage?

Property inherited, earnings and savings spent during or after marriage:
There is much talk about women being economically empowered and deserving equal rights to parental property. Given that it has become common practice for women to calculate and claim every penny or piece of wealth brought along or spent during the course of the marriage as “dowry”, the following questions arise:
•    If property is inherited or purchased by a woman before marriage is it considered dowry?
•    When an earning woman contributes towards wedding expenditure or gifts or towards the benefit of the matrimonial family after marriage, is it considered dowry?
If all the above are dowry, then
•    Are women expected to spend everything they have and then marry?
•    Are women expected to NOT contribute anything for the running of the matrimonial family?

Reduced punishment for dowry givers:
Since the introduction of DP Act in 1961, not a single person who admitted to giving dowry has been punished. Scores of persons alleged of taking or abetting the taking of dowry have been immediately arrested and tried for 5-10 years before being declared innocent.
•    Is it not a mockery of the law to reduce punishment for givers, when no dowry giver has ever been punished?
•    Does it not mean the Government is encouraging the giving of dowry?
•    How can one take dowry if nobody gives dowry?
•    Can anyone be threatened or coerced to give dowry AND marry against their will?

It is a well-known fact that most parents want to marry their daughters off to economically successful men and most women also want to marry a man who is better than them in everything. To achieve this end they indulge in lavish marriages, dowry and extravagant gifts, and when convenient, assume victimhood and accuse the husband and in-laws of “demanding” dowry.

In thousands of cases, young men and their families who take pride in opposing dowry or expensive weddings, eventually end up being booked under the anti-dowry laws when marital disputes crop up, and the bride and her family misuse the law to take revenge or extort money.

Shouldn’t the punishment for giving dowry be increased rather than reduced if the practice of dowry should be eradicated and misuse of the law prevented?

Dowry death and reverting back property, dowry and presents:
Feminists would have you believe that every unnatural or untimely death of a married Indian woman is dowry death. Not only that, the feminist hyperbole on “bride killing” and “dowry harassment” makes it look like Indian men have an uncanny propensity to commit violence on their wives for money, while men in other countries commit domestic violence for other reasons.

In reality, it is the number of registered suicides of married women which are passed off as statistics of dowry death, and even these numbers are almost always exaggerated. It has become a custom to claim that all the women have been “driven to suicide” due to dowry harassment.

It is important to note that women think about the past, present, and future earnings and savings (actual and potential) of a man before they marry. Wives routinely abuse husbands for money. More than 56,000 married Indian men end their lives every year, and a majority of them because of economic abuse. According to statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau, every year, twice as many married men, compared to women, commit suicides and the deaths of these men are written off as “suicides due to financial or family problems”.

When a husband is killed due to economic abuse by his wife, the “hapless” surviving wife is legally entitled to claim his property and wealth, whereas, if a wife dies, no matter what the circumstances may be, the husband is not only accused of dowry death and punished through media slander and long-drawn court trials, but he has to also return all the wealth or property of the wife to her children or her parents.

Linking the Domestic Violence Act with DP Act for quick relief:
While logic would suggest that a woman complaining of domestic abuse should be protected by removing her from the offender(s) and the offender(s) should be punished, the Domestic Violence (DV) Act provides relief to the complainant wife in the form of monetary compensation and residence rights in home of the alleged “offender(s)”.
•    Does this not amount to encouraging women to get abused and beaten for money and residence rights?
•    Does it not tempt women to make false allegations of abuse to claim monetary and residential benefits?
•    Put another way, does it not seem to encourage husbands to commit domestic abuse and pay up to be let off the hook – in essence, the richer you are the more the unsaid “post-paid abusing privileges”?

In addition to the above, there are several other flaws with the DV Act and it is with such an ill-conceived law that another meaningless law, the DP Act, is proposed to be linked!

Government controlling giving presents:
Giving gifts is common practice at birthdays, anniversaries, farewell parties and many other occasions, and a wedding is just one of them. The Government has no right to infringe upon the rights of individuals to give presents or gifts. It cannot dictate what, when, why and to whom gifts can or cannot be given.

Having said that, for reasons only known to the lawmakers, the DP Act was introduced 50 years ago restricting the giving and taking of “dowry/presents/gifts”. Nevertheless, politicians, lawmakers, feminists, lawyers, judges, police, IAS officers and almost everyone who claim a moral high ground over common people, exchange dowry and expensive gifts and have lavish weddings.

How can such hypocrites be allowed to legislate and enforce laws like the DP Act over the common citizens of India?

The Government and women’s rights activists do not care about eradicating dowry:
The original DP Act of 1961 itself legalizes the illegal – After declaring that giving or taking of dowry is illegal, the Act adds ridiculous riders on the “return of dowry”. Through the new amendment, the Government seems to be inclined to further facilitate the so-called “evil practice”.

Madhu Kishwar, a renowned women’s rights activist, took an oath herself and invited all women’s rights activists to boycott all weddings which involve dowry or extravagant expenditure. How many weddings have any of you or anyone you know boycotted because dowry or too much expenditure was involved?

Madhu Kishwar was right when she said “feminism in India lacks integrity”. Feminists claim that 8,000 dowry deaths take place every year. They have spread the message that Indian families burn their brides for dowry as a routine practice, and it is the single most important problem that deserves International attention and funding. A fact unknown to many is that 78,000 pregnancy related deaths of women occur every year due to poverty and inability to afford proper health facilities. Are the poor women dying in the streets not a problem big enough to worry about compared to creating false statistics of dowry deaths and creating paranoia?

If the existing DP Act of 1961 is strictly implemented and if all dowry givers and those indulging in extravagant marriages are punished, the so called “dowry problem” will vanish in no time. However, this will never happen due to the many disincentives it would create in the global “Domestic Violence Industry”, the most important one being that the flow of International funding for “eliminating dowry” will cease. Not only that, the 50,000 crore market of “big fat weddings” will come to an abrupt end and hurt corporate entities and businesses, which in turn will affect politicians who control and are controlled by them. Lawyers, judges, police and anyone who thrive on the DV Industry will suffer.

The present system of ineffective anti-dowry laws works well for the Government and all the players in the “DV Industry” as it serves to project women as perpetual victims and men as habitual aggressors and to make more and more anti-male, anti-family laws and policies to woo the women vote bank.

The question before the media and all citizens is “When are WE going to realize we are being fooled, and say NO to laws like the DP Act, which have so many inherent flaws that their honest implementation will never be possible?”

In the event that the proposed amendments to the DP Act are passed, AIFWA, SIFF and APMPA would like to issue a word of caution to all men intending to get married and urge them to insist on prenuptial agreements to protect themselves from false cases when a marriage turns sour or breaks down.

PRESS RELEASESub: Latest Amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act Encourage and Legalize DowryThe Ministry of Women and Child Development is moving a cabinet note seeking amendment in the existing provisions of the Dowry Prohibition (DP) Act of 1961. The amendments are expected to be placed before the cabinet for its approval at the end of January 2010 and likely to be tabled in the Parliament in the coming budget session.

The amendments include:
1.    Mandatory requirement for couples to notify the list of gifts exchanged during their wedding ceremony.
2.    The list of gifts, in the form of a sworn affidavit, has to be notarized, signed by a protection officer or a dowry prohibition officer and kept by both the parties.
3.    Failing to keep a list of gifts can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only the bride and the groom but also their parents.
4.    The penalty for dowry givers is reduced from five years of imprisonment to one year.
5.    The Domestic Violence Act will be linked with the DP Act for quick relief.
6.    The definition of dowry is widened by changing the word “in connection with marriage” to “given before the marriage, at the time of marriage and at any time after the marriage.”
7.    In case of a woman’s death, all property obtained as dowry would need to be reverted back to the parents of the woman or her children.

Sworn affidavit with a list of all gifts:
The new rule requiring a sworn affidavit accompanied by a list of gifts raises a lot of questions:
•    What is the legal purpose of this list and who does it benefit?
•    Does this sworn affidavit also serve as a declaration that no dowry or gifts were demanded by the husband and in-laws?
•    In the absence of such a declaration, how are the husband and in-laws protected from false allegations of dowry demand and harassment?
•    Who will ensure that this new rule is implemented given that the existing rules of the DP Act regarding dowry, gifts and marriage expenditure have not been implemented in the last 50 years?
•    Who is responsible for making sure that everyone is aware of the consequences of disobeying the rule?
•    Does ignorance of law work as an excuse to avoid punishment?

The most important question of all is this –
•    Is the affidavit with a list of “gifts” not a way of legalizing dowry?

Expansion of the definition of dowry:
The term dowry has not been clearly defined in the DP Act, and the proposed amendments do not add any clarity to the definition either. Instead, they only raise more questions and apprehensions.
•    How does one distinguish between dowry and gift?
•    What is the extent/value of “gifts” one can give?
•    When does a gift become dowry?
–    Does it happen when the marriage breaks down?
–    Does it happen when any gift is not listed in the affidavit?
–    Does it happen when the worth of the gift exceeds a certain monetary value?
–    Or is it at the discretion of the married woman and her family?
•    When the present definition of dowry itself is so unclear, what is the use of expanding the definition to items given before, during and at any time after marriage?
•    Should the parties file an affidavit at every instance gifts are exchanged at any time prior to, during and after marriage?

Property inherited, earnings and savings spent during or after marriage:
There is much talk about women being economically empowered and deserving equal rights to parental property. Given that it has become common practice for women to calculate and claim every penny or piece of wealth brought along or spent during the course of the marriage as “dowry”, the following questions arise:
•    If property is inherited or purchased by a woman before marriage is it considered dowry?
•    When an earning woman contributes towards wedding expenditure or gifts or towards the benefit of the matrimonial family after marriage, is it considered dowry?
If all the above are dowry, then
•    Are women expected to spend everything they have and then marry?
•    Are women expected to NOT contribute anything for the running of the matrimonial family?

Reduced punishment for dowry givers:
Since the introduction of DP Act in 1961, not a single person who admitted to giving dowry has been punished. Scores of persons alleged of taking or abetting the taking of dowry have been immediately arrested and tried for 5-10 years before being declared innocent.
•    Is it not a mockery of the law to reduce punishment for givers, when no dowry giver has ever been punished?
•    Does it not mean the Government is encouraging the giving of dowry?
•    How can one take dowry if nobody gives dowry?
•    Can anyone be threatened or coerced to give dowry AND marry against their will?

It is a well-known fact that most parents want to marry their daughters off to economically successful men and most women also want to marry a man who is better than them in everything. To achieve this end they indulge in lavish marriages, dowry and extravagant gifts, and when convenient, assume victimhood and accuse the husband and in-laws of “demanding” dowry.

In thousands of cases, young men and their families who take pride in opposing dowry or expensive weddings, eventually end up being booked under the anti-dowry laws when marital disputes crop up, and the bride and her family misuse the law to take revenge or extort money.

Shouldn’t the punishment for giving dowry be increased rather than reduced if the practice of dowry should be eradicated and misuse of the law prevented?

Dowry death and reverting back property, dowry and presents:
Feminists would have you believe that every unnatural or untimely death of a married Indian woman is dowry death. Not only that, the feminist hyperbole on “bride killing” and “dowry harassment” makes it look like Indian men have an uncanny propensity to commit violence on their wives for money, while men in other countries commit domestic violence for other reasons.
In reality, it is the number of registered suicides of married women which are passed off as statistics of dowry death, and even these numbers are almost always exaggerated. It has become a custom to claim that all the women have been “driven to suicide” due to dowry harassment.

It is important to note that women think about the past, present, and future earnings and savings (actual and potential) of a man before they marry. Wives routinely abuse husbands for money. More than 56,000 married Indian men end their lives every year, and a majority of them because of economic abuse. According to statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau, every year, twice as many married men, compared to women, commit suicides and the deaths of these men are written off as “suicides due to financial or family problems”.

When a husband is killed due to economic abuse by his wife, the “hapless” surviving wife is legally entitled to claim his property and wealth, whereas, if a wife dies, no matter what the circumstances may be, the husband is not only accused of dowry death and punished through media slander and long-drawn court trials, but he has to also return all the wealth or property of the wife to her children or her parents.

Linking the Domestic Violence Act with DP Act for quick relief:
While logic would suggest that a woman complaining of domestic abuse should be protected by removing her from the offender(s) and the offender(s) should be punished, the Domestic Violence (DV) Act provides relief to the complainant wife in the form of monetary compensation and residence rights in home of the alleged “offender(s)”.
•    Does this not amount to encouraging women to get abused and beaten for money and residence rights?
•    Does it not tempt women to make false allegations of abuse to claim monetary and residential benefits?
•    Put another way, does it not seem to encourage husbands to commit domestic abuse and pay up to be let off the hook – in essence, the richer you are the more the unsaid “post-paid abusing privileges”?

In addition to the above, there are several other flaws with the DV Act and it is with such an ill-conceived law that another meaningless law, the DP Act, is proposed to be linked!

Government controlling giving presents:
Giving gifts is common practice at birthdays, anniversaries, farewell parties and many other occasions, and a wedding is just one of them. The Government has no right to infringe upon the rights of individuals to give presents or gifts. It cannot dictate what, when, why and to whom gifts can or cannot be given.

Having said that, for reasons only known to the lawmakers, the DP Act was introduced 50 years ago restricting the giving and taking of “dowry/presents/gifts”. Nevertheless, politicians, lawmakers, feminists, lawyers, judges, police, IAS officers and almost everyone who claim a moral high ground over common people, exchange dowry and expensive gifts and have lavish weddings.

How can such hypocrites be allowed to legislate and enforce laws like the DP Act over the common citizens of India?

The Government and women’s rights activists do not care about eradicating dowry:
The original DP Act of 1961 itself legalizes the illegal – After declaring that giving or taking of dowry is illegal, the Act adds ridiculous riders on the “return of dowry”. Through the new amendment, the Government seems to be inclined to further facilitate the so-called “evil practice”.

Madhu Kishwar, a renowned women’s rights activist, took an oath herself and invited all women’s rights activists to boycott all weddings which involve dowry or extravagant expenditure. How many weddings have any of you or anyone you know boycotted because dowry or too much expenditure was involved?

Madhu Kishwar was right when she said “feminism in India lacks integrity”. Feminists claim that 8,000 dowry deaths take place every year. They have spread the message that Indian families burn their brides for dowry as a routine practice, and it is the single most important problem that deserves International attention and funding. A fact unknown to many is that 78,000 pregnancy related deaths of women occur every year due to poverty and inability to afford proper health facilities. Are the poor women dying in the streets not a problem big enough to worry about compared to creating false statistics of dowry deaths and creating paranoia?

If the existing DP Act of 1961 is strictly implemented and if all dowry givers and those indulging in extravagant marriages are punished, the so called “dowry problem” will vanish in no time. However, this will never happen due to the many disincentives it would create in the global “Domestic Violence Industry”, the most important one being that the flow of International funding for “eliminating dowry” will cease. Not only that, the 50,000 crore market of “big fat weddings” will come to an abrupt end and hurt corporate entities and businesses, which in turn will affect politicians who control and are controlled by them. Lawyers, judges, police and anyone who thrive on the DV Industry will suffer.

The present system of ineffective anti-dowry laws works well for the Government and all the players in the “DV Industry” as it serves to project women as perpetual victims and men as habitual aggressors and to make more and more anti-male, anti-family laws and policies to woo the women vote bank.

The question before the media and all citizens is “When are WE going to realize we are being fooled, and say NO to laws like the DP Act, which have so many inherent flaws that their honest implementation will never be possible?”

In the event that the proposed amendments to the DP Act are passed, AIFWA, SIFF and APMPA would like to issue a word of caution to all men intending to get married and urge them to insist on prenuptial agreements to protect themselves from false cases when a marriage turns sour or breaks down.

Dowry death and bride burning: A look beyond the smoke screen

The phrase “bride burning” conjures up images of a cruel husband and his family members dousing a young woman in kerosene, flinging a lighted matchstick on her and gloating as the hapless bride goes up in flames. The term “dowry death” also sparks off vivid imaginations of a woman being taunted and harassed for money and finally, hanged to death within the four walls of her house. We also have watched movies and TV serials where a malicious mother-in-law poisons the unsuspecting daughter-in-law’s meal or quietly causes a gas leak and locks the new bride in the kitchen right before she lights the stove to make tea for the family.

There must be many families who burn their brides for dowry as a routine practice otherwise, why would there be so many news reports about dowry deaths? As they say, there cannot be smoke without a fire. Right?

Feminists would have you believe that every unnatural or untimely death of a married Indian woman is dowry death. Not only that, the feminist hyperbole on “bride killing” and “dowry harassment” makes it look like Indian men have an uncanny propensity to commit violence on their wives for money, while men in other countries commit domestic violence for other reasons.

In reality, it is the number of registered suicides of married women which are passed off as statistics of dowry death, and even these numbers are almost always exaggerated. It has become a custom to claim that all the women have been “driven to suicide” due to dowry harassment.1-6 The husband and in-laws are immediately arrested under IPC Sections 304B and 498A and incarcerated for a couple of weeks to several months without bail. They are promptly subjected to media trial and labeled criminals even before investigation or trial can begin.

Even if all the noise about Indian brides being “driven to suicide” for dowry is indeed well-founded, one would expect that the number of suicides of married women would be significantly higher compared to that of unmarried women. However, the National Crime Records Bureau’s statistics show that there is no significant difference in the rates of suicide by married and unmarried women.

Justice Saldana’s remarks (in Crl.A. no. 589 of 2003) are testimony to how anti-dowry laws are being misused to the detriment of innocent citizens:

…we need to sound a note of caution that the police and investigating authorities should not improperly and technically jump to the conclusion that merely because death has occurred that ipso facto a criminal offense has been committed . In as many as 44% of these cases prosecution is thoroughly unjustified. Unless there is cogent and convincing evidence and unless there is material to sustain these charges, it would be totally impermissible and completely unjustified to embark upon legal action. The consequences of these charges are extremely grave because the accused husband and invariably family members are placed under arrest. There are serious social and economic repercussions.

The fact that we do come across considerable number of instances where prosecution was unjustified seems to indicate that in every case of death of young woman or recently married women that prosecution and filing of charge sheet has become automatic. There does not appear to be a proper application of mind at the stage of scrutiny and having regard to this position we direct the concerned authorities to ensure that requirements of the law are correctly and responsibly followed.

It is important to note that more than 56,000 married Indian men end their lives every year. According to statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau, every year, twice as many married men, compared to women, commit suicides unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse by their wives and in-laws. Deaths of these men make for the brief stories we often read in newspapers stating that a certain man “killed himself due to family issues or financial problems”. 7-12

Thanks to the concerted efforts of the feminists, thousands of men are also becoming victims of “legal terrorism” unleashed through laws like Sections 498A and 304B of the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws. Many men are ending their lives unable to endure the fear, humiliation and trauma caused by the legal harassment.13-18

While it is insisted that the death of every young married woman is a case of dowry death requiring immediate arrest of the husband and in-laws, accompanied by media-hype, male-bashing and breast-beating, driving thousands of men to commit suicide is considered social service in India.

Feminists have always wanted “dowry harassment” and “bride burning” to remain hot issues that fuel the Indian Domestic Violence Industry.

The feminist Taliban will surely burn in rage as we look beyond the smoke screen and call their bluff.

1.    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/kem-doctor-suicide-police-register-dowry-case-against-husband/407514/
2.    http://www.thehindu.com/2007/02/11/stories/2007021114290300.htm
3.    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/fivemonth-pregnant-woman-commits-suicide-3-held-for-dowry-harassment/275318/’
4.    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/woman-commits-suicide-husband-held/494150/
5.    http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/28/stories/2007032823500500.htm
6.    http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_techie-held-for-suicide-of-wife_1252098
7.    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Husband-commits-suicide-after-wife-calls-him-ugly-impotent/articleshow/3781322.cms
8.    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Man-pining-for-separated-son-commits-suicide/articleshow/4382247.cms
9.    http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/kolkata/Man-commits-suicide-on-metro-tracks/Article1-475927.aspx
10.    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/Man-commits-suicide/articleshow/5276875.cms
11.    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Man-commits-suicide-at-Delhi-metro-station/432125/
12.    http://www.kolkatamirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=13&contentid=2009111320091113132759296662d0415&sectxslt=
13.    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/ministers-gunner-kills-self-fearing-dowry-charges-against-family/463274/
14.    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/False-dowry-case-Man-kills-self/270124/
15.    http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=%E2%80%98Harassed%E2%80%99+husband+commits+suicide&artid=QlzZUAwpVaA=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=
16.    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/19204/treated-cruelly-wife-techie-ends.html
17.    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/PSI-shoots-himself-dead-with-service-revolver/articleshow/5249121.cms
18.    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?section=subcontinent&xfile=data/subcontinent/2008/february/subcontinent_february242.xml