Coaxing Culture: India’s Legislative Response to Dowry Deaths

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Document Type

Book Chapter

Organizational Units

Sturm College of Law


Dowry deaths, India, Criminal Law, Gender violence


This chapter examines the “cultural” phenomenon of dowry deaths—homicides and suicides brought on by increased dowry demands and harassment by grooms’ families. There are almost 10,000 dowry-deaths per year in India. In response, India’s legislature has incorporated specialized provisions in the criminal code that presume the fault of the husband and his family when the wife dies within seven years of marriage from unnatural causes and dowry harassment is shown. This chapter closely examines the dowry death phenomenon and how the legislation is carefully accounts for cultural factors and perceptions of women, marriage, and families. Grassroots and State educative efforts to eradicate dowry violence are also examined. Taken together, the legislative, grassroots and educative efforts, provide a clearer picture of measures to eradicate gender violence in India.