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Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 18, 2002)

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 18, 2002)

How did dowry provide security originally?


Since 1656, in China, dowry was used. Even in this country, a girl gets a trousseau. Even at its worst, i.e., dowry murder, those who think it is bad are less than 1%. Some dowry murders might be suicides; I was close to this myself. Some might be genuine accidents. Then there are the murders. But a new bill in Parliament in India is against violence on women and it is not going to have dowry as a part of it. This will make anyone who says my husband was violent, that will come into question; you don't have to get into dowry.

The second thing about your question, in '85 when they reformed the dowry act, a clause said all dowry (of a dead wife) would revert to the giver, meaning the parent, if it is proved to be a murder. So now parents are taking great precautions: if it is cash, it will be a fixed deposit in a daughter's name, with a survivor clause, which says it will go back to the mother. So some of these things will make dowry murder unprofitable. But violence against women will not end because dowry is only a very small part of that picture.