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Three women died in Kerala this week as a result of dowry disputes. This violence against women must stop

Daughters are seen as financial burdens, and wives as property

Three women died in Kerala this week as a result of dowry disputes. This violence against women must stop

Daughters are seen as financial burdens, and wives as property

Three women died in Kerala this week as a result of dowry disputes. This violence against women must stop

Daughters are seen as financial burdens, and wives as property

Three women died in Kerala this week as a result of dowry disputes. This violence against women must stop

Daughters are seen as financial burdens, and wives as property

The dowry system was abolished in India in 1961. So why are thousands of young women dying every year in “dowry death” cases?

Three young women in Kerala died earlier this week.

22-year-old Vismaya Nair’s parents received a call from hospital, telling them their daughter had been admitted in critical condition. By the time they arrived, she was dead – apparently by suicide.

Vismaya’s father had paid a dowry to her husband, Kiran Kumar, when the couple were married: a quantity of gold, an acre of land, and a second-hand Toyota Yaris. But Kiran, apparently, was unhappy with the car; the mileage was too high, and he wanted cash instead. He assaulted Vismaya in front of her family, and beat her at home. He cut off her contact with her father or brother.

After a year of marriage to this violent man, Vismaya was found dead – she may have been driven to take her own life, but he is certainly guilty.

A second woman, Archana, 24 years old, was found burned to death. Her husband’s father had demanded 3 lakh rupees as dowry several months after the couple were married, but Archana’s father did not have the money. That seemed to be the end of it – except that Suresh, her husband, used to get drunk and then abuse his wife, who became very unhappy in the marriage. The day before her death, he brought a can of diesel back to the house. He is now in police custody under suspicion of murder.

The third, Suchitra, was only 19 and recently married. Like Vismaya, she was found hanged in her own home. The story behind her death is still unclear and under investigation, but it seems likely that dowry disputes were also involved.

Three young women dead, in one state, in two days. Why are tragedies like these still everyday occurrences in India?

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