The deaths of three sisters paint a picture of domestic violence over dowry

Sardar Meena was searching in vain for her three daughters and her two grandchildren who had been missing for several days from their marital home in Dudu village in Rajasthan, India, when their bodies were found in an old well. Countryside

Kalu, 27, the mother of a four-year-old boy and a 27-day-old child, her younger sister Kamlesh, 20, and Mamata, 22, both pregnant, married three brothers and lived in a dudu under the roof. In-laws

The youngest, shortly before their deaths, wrote in her WhatsApp message a complaint status, which was sent to AFP by a cousin: “We have in-laws behind the five dead (…). Good. “

Four days after this tragic news, sitting on the ground, Mr. Meena, his wife, their eldest son, their three other daughters and their relatives mourn the dead young man under their photographic portraits arranged on the shelves of the impoverished residential family. , A village near Dudu.

Their deaths are being treated as suicides until the autopsy results are released, a Jaipur police official told AFP.

But Mr Meena accused her son-in-law of enduring years of torture and indecent exposure by his daughters.

– “So much harassment” –

Elderly Kalu was admitted to the hospital in April after being beaten by her husband and in-laws.

“My daughters were victims of their violence, then came back here. But, despite the violence, they said they had to stay in the marital home and then go back to their husbands,” the annoyed father told AFP.

Divorce, considered a notoriety in most Indian families, let Mr. Meena go to “save her family’s honor.”

According to Mr Minar, the in-laws blamed them specifically for their meager dowry.

“Those who demand dowry are not good people,” he insisted.

The victims’ husbands, their mothers-in-law and their brothers-in-law have been arrested, especially for harassment related to dowry and domestic violence.

“They used to harass them a lot,” said Sonu, another daughter of Minar, “but my sisters hoped that one day things would change.”

The dowry system has been banned by Indian law for more than 60 years, which is being grossly violated.

– “Educated” –

“We’ve already given them a lot (…)”, he added, quoting television, a fridge, furniture, “I am the father of six daughters, there is a limit to what I can do”.

India: Death of three sisters paints a picture of domestic violence linked to dowry

“I gave them an education, it was already difficult,” he proudly showed them their university cards.

But the husband and wife forbade their daughters to continue their education and work.

Stories of domestic violence and dowry disputes are published daily in the local media.

Last year, an Indian man from the southern state of Kerala was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife by cobra bites to take control of his property. Their marriage has already brought her a new car and more than 6,000.

Last month, a Kerala court sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for inciting his wife to commit suicide for dowry.

– “Worrying resignation” –

According to data from the National Bureau of Criminal Records, about 7,000 housewives were killed for dowry in 2020 and another 1,700 committed suicide.

India: Death of three sisters paints a picture of domestic violence linked to dowry

A National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reveals that about 30% of married women have experienced domestic violence, which is defined as physical and / or sexual violence.

But women’s rights advocates say the numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

“Every hour, 30 to 40 women are victims of domestic violence,” Kavita Srivastava, an activist for the private human rights organization PUCL, told AFP.

The basic problem, he said, is the general inertia of society in the face of domestic violence in India: “Such resignations are very worrying.”

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