ALAPPUZHA: Giving and taking of dowry is prohibited in the state, but the practice continues to flourish as the law brought out in 1969 has not been implemented effectively. Women also face dowry harassment and many end their lives unable to withstand the torture from the husband and in-laws. As per the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) records, at least six women have lost their lives due to dowry harassment till March this year, while the number last year was 13.
The number of dowry death cases registered under section 304(B) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been rising over the years. As many as 221 women in the state either committed suicide or were killed in the name of dowry in the last ten years. This means that on an average two young women lose their lives every month. Married women face mental and physical torture in their in-laws' homes under the outdated custom of dowry. The conviction rate in dowry death cases is low. For instance, a 26-year-old woman in Valiyamaram ward of Alappuzha municipality set herself on fire on May 12, 2012 after she was tortured by her in-laws and husband for dowry for six years. Though the south police here registered a case, the accused were not punished.
The perpetrators do not worry about conviction because of the delayed justice delivery system. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 87 per cent of dowry deaths in the country are pending in courts. Over 83 per cent of cases registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act are pending trial. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, assures special protection for the victims, but even this has not been of much help.
Women rights activists say that the parents of victims also do not come to their aid. Effective implementation of the dowry prohibition Act can save several women on the verge of suicide, they say. The Kerala Women's Commission, in June 2015, had submitted a proposal to the then UDF government to impose regulations like limiting the quantity of gold given to a bride to 120 grams. But it was not implemented.