Criminology and Socio- Cultural Aspects of the Anti-Dowry Law in India: A Feminist Critique
1 Post Doctoral Fellow [ICSSR], BB Ambedkar Central University, Lucknow (U.P), India
2 Associate Professor JNPG College, Lucknow, India
In India, the custom of dowry [payment of cash /gifts from the bride family to the bridegroom's family at marriage] not only encouraged parents to be sex selective and abort female embryos [causing skewed sex ratio] and greedy husbands and in-laws to torture and burn brides if their demands were not satiated, it also lowered women status/equality drastically. As a political positive corrective and feminist intervention the government not only banned dowry, it also introduced section 498-A in the Indian Penal Code - a non -bailable, non-compoundable and cognizable offence, against husband or relative, on cruelty to a married woman. But the law is dysfunctional due to lack of awareness, illiteracy, socio-cultural factors & joint family system. Sometimes all the adults of the family are put in jail along with infants, just on complaint, without investigations with school going children left alone to fend for themselves. On the basis of data of four districts of Bundelkhand in India where more than 40% of women jail inmates are under trials for s498A, the paper questions the criminology and impact of reforms/laws alone to curtail gender-based violence, when the basic values within the family, community and state remain patriarchal and against women.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
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