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Breaking The Silence Around Dowry Violence In India: Re-imagining The Law Reforms And Socio-Cultural Transformation – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a four week Online National Spring School Program on ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’ from March 5th, 2024 to March 27th 2024.

The course, spread over four weeks, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into understanding, addressing and eradicating gender-based violence. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered the participants to expand their thinking and enhance their understanding of challenges surrounding gender-based violence. The four-week duration allows for an in-depth exploration of the subject matter, fostering a collaborative learning environment where participants shared experiences, perspectives, and innovative solutions. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

On day 4 of the ‘Ending Gender-based Violence – Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies & Governance’, Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights reviewed the legal provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, its impact and lacunas.

Cases of Dowry Violence-

Adv. Dr. Nigam commenced the session with sharing a recent case of a 26-year-old doctor’s death due to dowry demand. Adv. Dr. Nigam following the case study discussed several similar cases across India highlighting the rampant dowry related violence cases. Adv. Dr. Nigam underlined the 37 million mission women due to gender-based discrimination from womb to tomb. Adv. Dr. Nigam explaining Judith Butler’s notion of lives as ungrievable explained the women whose deaths were caused due to dowry violence can be counted as ungrievable , since they were the ones who none wanted to protect, mourn and remember.

Explaining Dowry Prohibition Act

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 defines dowry as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly. Adv. Dr. Nigam explained the various judgements of the court, elaborating the definitions of dowry.  Adv. Dr. Nigam highlighted, that dowry can be even in connection of marriage and not always be in consideration of marriage.

Adv. Dr. Nigam discussed, that the acts of both giving and receiving dowry as punishable offences, discussing the different punishment terms for both the acts of crime. The law has also banned advertisement related to dowry, whereby the judiciary can take cognisance. Adv. Dr. Nigam, explained the reason behind the provision, whereby both the bride’s and  the groom’s side has to keep a list of the gifts given and a brief description about them this list should be signed by both the bride and the groom.

Adv. Dr. Nigam elaborated the provisions related to dowry deaths, if a woman dies within 7 years of marriage under normal circumstances and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty and harassment by her husband or any relative and in connection with any demand for dowry, such death will be called as dowry death.

Procedure Prescribed for Filing of Case for Dowry-

Dowry is a punishable offence under Indian law, but it is necessary to provide information regarding such offences for punishment, Adv. Dr. Nigam outlined. The victim has to file an FIR in the local police station Adv. Dr. Nigam explained. Adv. Dr. Nigam, an expert in the field  elucidated the subsequent processes that the police is required to take. Adv. Dr. Nigam in the session explained how the law operates in practice.

Adv. Dr. Nigam in the session underlined the lacunas in addressing dowry related violence. She highlighted the low conviction rate due to lack of evidence and witness. Victim blaming in judgments by judiciary another hindrance, Adv. Dr. Nigam mentioned.

Concluding the session, Adv. Dr. Nigam, reiterated that legal framework has ignored the essential element of how dowry is operating at the ground level, and the problem and abuse faced by women.  As a result, Adv. Dr. Nigam explained the necessity of a multi-pronged survivor centric strategies.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Case Studies of Effective Gender-based Violence Interventions

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