The highest number of crimes against women in India is because of “cruelty” by the husband or his family, with a dismal conviction rate.
Krishna, a young woman from Sitamarhi in Bihar, had been married for a couple of years. In September 2017, she was murdered and cremated by her husband’s family before her natal family even found out about her death. The reason? Some cash and a buffalo that her marital family was awaiting as part of the dowry they had demanded.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau report, the largest number of cases of crimes against women are reported under “cruelty by husband, or his relatives”. A total number of 1,10,378 such cases were reported in 2016. Krishna was yet another woman who was murdered by her husband and his family because apparently some of her dowry payment was pending, reports Community Correspondent Guddi Kumari.
“That’s why all of them – all the brother, mother and father-in-law used to torture her,” says Manoj Baitha, Krishna’s brother, who filed a First Information Report (FIR) at the local police station after the incident.
While current figures of crimes against women are already extremely mammoth, if one remembers that these crimes are some of the most underreported in the country, then it would help in creating a more realistic picture of how many women in the country are facing violence every single day.
Bihar, where this murder happened, reported 987 dowry deaths, the second highest in the country. And according to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems, in 2016, the FIR count under the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 was approximately 38, 632.
Krishna was killed by the mother-in-law hitting her with an iron road and the father-in-law kicking her throat. The older child, still a toddler, witnessed the incident and narrated it to his maternal grandmother when she asked him what happened.
When her natal family filed a case at the police station, the police told them that a case can be made even if the body has been burnt or disposed of”. But often, lack of resources and information, coupled with an inefficient or inaccessible justice system, make it difficult for families who have lost their kin to seek justice. Instead, they are left with a long, tiring and an unsupportive legal battle on top of the death of a loved one to deal with. Currently, there are 11,841 cases being investigated for dowry deaths in India.
All Manoj wants is justice for his sister. He also wants his case to hopefully become a deterrent before other dowry-related deaths happen, but he says “there has been no progress so far”.
Satish Chandra Shukla, Sub-inspector at Sahariya Police Station, told Guddi that the “accused have left town” and they are waiting for further orders from “higher authorities” to do anything more.
Every single day, 21 women die because of dowry in India, and not only in rural areas but in our glittering cities and highrises too. And the conviction rate remains an abysmal 34.7%.
Video by Community Correspondent Guddi Kumari
Article by Shreya Kalra, a member of the VV editorial team