Dowry Statistics

Latest statistics issued by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that Odisha reported as many as 1,487 cases under Dowry Prevention Act accounting for 16.5 per cent of the total cases recorded in the country during 2012.

Though the State was only behind Andhra Pradesh, which reported 2,511 cases, in terms of number of cases, Odisha clocked 7.3 per cent crime rate, the highest in the country which meant at least seven women faced dowry demands and related harassment and torture in a population of one lakh.
What is worse, the rate of crime has substantially gone up compared to last year when it was barely 2.5 per cent against the national rate of 0.5 per cent. Last year, the all-India rate of crime for dowry stood at 1.5 per cent.
The incidence of dowry torture has jumped significantly over the last few years, the report said. From 942 cases reported in 2010, the figure has spiraled to 1,487 last year. Similarly, dowry deaths have been on the rise too, from 388 deaths reported in 2010 to 525 last year. In the last six years, as many as 2,624 dowry deaths have been reported in the State which was among the first States to put in place an anti-dowry law in India. Of these cases, barely about 11 per cent cases (154 to be exact) ended in conviction while a whopping 570 cases saw acquittal of the accused. By the end of the year, at least 5,149 cases were pending trial in different courts.

Dowry is a transfer of property from the bride’s family to that of the bridegroom, at the time of marriage (Negi, 1997). The practice of giving material gifts and cash to bridegroom and his kin continues even after marriage (Paul, 1993). In its new form, dowry has come to include cash, jewelry, household items, appliances and vehicles and it is often open-ended in nature (Puri, 1999, Van Willigen & Channa, 1991).
The results of the present study show that this demand for dowry is present in all religions, in all types of marriages (Love /Arranged/Love-cum-arranged) and in all types of families (nuclear, joint or joint extended). People of all economic status and educational backgrounds have demanded dowry and indulged in domestic violence when this demand has not been fulfilled. According to Gangrade and Chander (1991), “the dowry system as it is practiced today, has become an instrument of oppression and torture for the bride and her parents”. The results of the present
study are in line with these findings. 36.2% of women reporting domestic violence gave dowry demands as the primary cause of violence against them. They have faced all kinds of violence i.e. physical, psychological/emotional, economic and verbal.

The persons who indulged in this domestic violence against them were: husband followed by mother-in-law, father in-law and all of them. According to Kumar (1993) “the control of women and the potential for violence are especially great when a woman leaves her natal home to become part of her husband’s family. On moving in with in-laws, the status of the daughter-in-law is often very low compared with the men and even any older women in the household. If there are dowry related problems, it is at this stage that the likelihood of fatal violence is elevated”.
The abuse begins when the husband and/or in-laws harass the wife for more money and more goods from her family (Kelkar, 1992). The reasons for making monetary demands in the shape of dowry as given by the respondents were education expenses for husband or his brother/sister’s education, followed by purchase of motor vehicle (motor cycle/car) or other household items like refrigerator/air conditioner, T.V. etc. “Exposure to media has resulted in an increasing trend towards consumerism; people cannot afford the luxuries that are thrust upon them through
advertisements targeted at the urban population and they see dowry as an avenue to fulfill their otherwise impossible dreams, (Negi, 1997). Sometimes, the dowry provided by the parents of the bride is seen insufficient and demands for supplement items continue long after the couple is married (Narsimhan, 1994). Another feeling among mother’s in-law is that when she herself brought dowry from her house at the time of her marriage, why shouldn’t she take dowry for her son (Saravanan, 2002). This may be the reason of so many mothers-in-law resorting to violence on their daughters-in-law and they do not feel shy of indulging in it.
Once married, women leave their natal home and begin their new life as part of their husband’s family (Puri, 1999).
“This residential pattern is another factor that contributes to the violence and dowry murders because often the woman’s kin do not reside close to her, as a result, the abused woman cannot leave her marital home and retreat to the safety of her natal home. Even if she does manage to return to her parents’ home, her husband or his family often comes to retrieve her, claiming the violence will stop, which usually does not” (Johnson and Johnson, 2001).


· Shenk, M.K. (2007) “Dowry and Public Policy in Contemporary India” Human Nature (2007) 18: 242-263
· Singh, J.P. (2005) “Dowry in India: A Search for New Social Identity”. The Eastern Anthropologist, Vol.58(2) 199-220.

· Suran, L, Amin, S.H. and Chaudhry, K (2004). “Does Dowry improve Life for Brides? A Test of the Bequest Theory of Dowry in Rural Bangladesh”. Population Council Policy Research Division, working paper series No.195.
· Diwan, P and Diwan P. (1995) Dowry and Protection to Married Women (3rd ed.), New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications.
· Ghansham, D.M. (2002) “Female Foeticide and the Dowry System in India”. Townsville International Women’s Conference, James Cook Univ., Australia.
· Kelkar, G (1992), “Violence against Women: Perspectives and Strategies in India. Bangkok, Thailand: Asian Institute of Technology.
· Kumar, R (1993) ‘The History of doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India. 1800-1990. London: Verso.
· Paul, M.C. (1986). Dowry and Position of Women in India: A study of Delhi Metropolis. New Delhi: Inter India Publications (p.9).
· Kishwar, M. P. (2005) Strategies for Combating the Culture of Dowry and Domestic Violence in India,
· Puri, D. (1999), “Gift of a daughter: Change and Continuity in Marriage Patterns among two Generations of North Indians in Toronto and New Delhi”. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Univ. of Toronto.
· Karin Kapadia: India Working: Essays on Society and Economy

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