Sobering Look at India’s Dowry Deaths

Spring 2015 As Seen in Our Spring 2015 Issue
Sobering Look at India’s Dowry Deaths

Judged harshly for meager marriage payments, wives perish in fire

In India, “dowry death” refers to the often grisly killing of a woman by a husband and/or in-laws who judge her wedding dowry (a marriage payment of property or money) inadequate or too slow to come. Of domestic violence homicides in India, 54.1 percent were dowry deaths, according to “Motives and Characteristics of Domestic Violence Homicides and Suicides Among Women in India,” a study by Bushra Sabri, Maria V. Sanchez, and Jacquelyn C. Campbell ofthe Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The researchers also found 34 suicides among the domestic violence-related deaths, suggesting a number of those likely were killings misreported by families as suicides.

“Motives and Characteristics” paints a grim picture of domestic violence in India. The most common scenario in dowry death, for instance, was husbands or both husbands and in-laws killing women, often burning them to death since kerosene is the cheapest and handiest weapon available in India (“much like a gun or a baseball bat in U.S. homes”). Strangulation was the second most common method. The study looked at domestic violence-related homicides and suicides in India from 2011 to 2012.

“The findings highlight the need for stronger prevention/intervention programs in India to identify and intervene with women at high risk for being killed or committing suicide,” the authors write in Health Care for Women International. “The knowledge may be useful for understanding the presence of homicide and suicide-related risk factors among families in India, and for developing risk assessments for safety.”

Publication: Healthcare for Women International

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe