Dowry: Low conviction rate irks activists
Bengaluru: Women's groups are deeply concerned about what they see as the attitude of courts and police, which treat the anti-dowry law as being misused by women and the consequent dilution of provisions of Section 498a of the Indian Penal code that criminalises dowry.
A recent convention of women's activists, former police officers, lawyers and researchers expressed serious misgivings as courts and law enforcement agencies interpreting the very low conviction rates in dowry cases, as a result of filing of false cases by women against their husbands and in-laws.
The participants in the national convention organised by Vimochana in Bengaluru decided to conduct a campaign on social networking sites in support of the provisions of Section 498a and conduct a study about the systemic failure and gaps in the implementation of the anti-dowry law that had given strength to the so-called men's rights groups, and contributed to perpetuating gender insensitivity in law enforcement agencies.
Section 498a of the IPC states that a husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.-Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.-For the purpose of this section, "cruelty" means — (a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
Bimala Chandrasekar of Women's Voices from Grassroots said that the, “State should provide Survivors Assistance Fund and added that, “Many women expressed a need for pre-marital counseling.”
Corinne Kumar of the Courts of Women — Safe Space, said that, "new knowledge systems are needed that allow sites to express women's pain and trauma. She also added that there was a need for new concepts of justice beyond rational towards reformative and healing. She also added that the, “Current criminal justice system decontextualizes and dehistoricises crime.”