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Death and the dowry system: India's women and female children at global risk of gendercide over money
journal contributionposted on 2017-08-28, 00:00 authored by D Monani, Felicity Gerry QCFelicity Gerry QC
Increasing globalization means that some actions or events transcend national boundaries and often require harmonization of responses. This is increasingly apparent in the context of violence against women and girls as movement of people and culture creates new challenges. News of accusations of dowry harassment against actress Smita Bansal caused a sensation in December 2015. The allegations arose during her brother's divorce in London. It was suggested that her family had taken away jewelry and money from her sister-in-law during marriage to her brother. The allegations were refuted. True or otherwise, the issue of dowry has been catapulted onto the world stage. Whilst the demanding and giving of dowry has been effectively illegal in India since 1961 (The Dowry prohibition Act, 1961), the practice continues and has been exported globally with migration. No similar provisions appear outside India to protect extra territorial dowry demands or harassment. Research is scant but news reports suggest that women are burned, poisoned, beaten and forced to commit suicide. Female children suffer infanticide and foeticide when dowry is unpaid or deemed insufficient. This paper explores these issues.