Bride burning

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In India, bride burning is a common form of spousal abuse. It frequently occurs in connection with dowry deaths. The term "dowry deaths" refers to women who pass away early in their marriages as a result of their husbands demanding more dowry than they are able to afford. Seven years or fewer is the typical length of time the bride spends in the marriage. Even if bride-burning has increased in frequency in India, the law's laws are insufficient to stop it; society and families must also take action. An Indian bride who gives insufficient dowry is subject to humiliation, harassment and often death (Umar, 1998). In his book, Umar tries to identify the factors that lead to this evil as well as the ways in which it can be suppressed. Moreover, he relates bride burning to several causes: dowry, incompatibility between husband and wife, desire to have a son, and not a daughter and the rigidity of the divorce law.

He further stresses that not only is the bride a casualty to fire but also smothering, poisoning, and hurt from weapons, more often than not leading to suicide. The evil occurs in all levels of the society. These societal levels have different cultural and economic values. It becomes difficult to detect and prevent bride burning at the domestic level.

Bride-burning has been fueled by the old reputation of women over centuries. He further argues that majority of the incidences occur through fire and that in this there is no concrete proof available to convict of the dowry deaths. Thus, law enforcement officials have the tendency of not concluding homicide. The will and power to resist this evil have been consistently eroded by consistent humiliations and harassments. The bride’s desire to live is quickly eaten away by the constant pressure from her in-laws.

Married women are subject to murder or burning to death by husbands or in-laws whose dowry demands are not met (James, 1995). Several interviews were conducted and a peculiar woman who escaped burning by a whisker was one of the interviewees. Before her marriage, her husband together with his family had not requested for any dowry. Later on, after three years of marriage, the husband requested for dowry in terms of cash payment. The woman, as well as her family, were not capable of raising the cash dowry that was required. As a result, the husband opted to burn the woman. On that fateful day, the woman narrowly managed to escape.

Women lacked power and no important role in the society they had to obey what their husbands demanded. Similarly, they lacked economic power and the power of Indian women traditionally that was exercised through fertility diminished. Traditionally in India, women had a role to play in the society due to the very reason that they can produce offsprings. Over the years, this has greatly reduced due to cultural beliefs and the tendency to want to be wealthy through dowry.

Dowry is a social problem that has led to many brides heading to the grave (Ahmad, 2008). Over the years, attempts to have a legal solution have not succeeded. Furthermore, bride burning has been amplified throughout India. Statistics show that a young married woman is stricken to death every six hours. Similarly, a young woman is either burnt alive or pushed to committing suicide. The national commission of women suggested the removal of the Dowry Prohibition Act. That signified how important the matter was. Moreover, this was beyond the legislative and administration activities. A series of laws were put in place to empower women but still, on average an Indian woman is pushed to kill herself every four hours.

In a 2009 report by the world health organization, cultural and social norms greatly influenced the physical and intimate partner violence against women (Banerjee, 2013). The violence occurred when dowry or bridal price was deemed to be unsatisfactory by the recipient. In India, despite the law prohibiting the practice, there has been no great change over the last thirty years.

Records of the national crime record bureau of India estimated the number of female deaths related to dowry disputes at 8618 females in 2011. Similarly, the Asian women’s human right console estimated the practice attributes to about twenty-five thousand. This led to the maiming of women between the ages of fifteen to thirty-four in India annually.

The most recent literature reviews reveal that despite efforts that have been put in place by the Indian government there are relatively no big changes over the past decade. Moreover, the problem has escalated resulting in cases of unprecedented amounts of mortality and mobility among women in India.

A study focused to examine the influence of men’s right in the control of wife’s behavior and discipline showed that dowry escalates (David, 2007). The threats and violence that are issued to the bride are synonymous to the wealth that the bride was to bring. Purchase of a husband is associated with how the female of the reproductive age 15 to 49 years are subject to violence.

In this study, a total of two hundred and fifty males and females drawn from different professional backgrounds were randomly sampled. The three instruments used were author-constructed questionnaires with 0.69, 0.72 and 0.69 reliability coefficients respectively. Multiple regression analysis was the test that was used to analyze the data obtained. The results obtained indicated that significant relationships existed between, men’s right to control their women’s behavior and forcefully discipline their wives.

In that, a bride’s wealth is synonymous to purchase of a husband and that female chastity and male honor serve to justify violence with dowry demand. The results, therefore, indicated that the need for those in helping professions, the government, community leaders and non-governmental organizations to mount strategy modus operandi bringing to an end this adamant era of violence against women.

Many young women in India are each year subject to death through fatal burns caused by dowry deaths (Jutla RK, 2004). Dowries are usually gifts that are given by the bride’s parents to the groom. However, there is a tendency of the husband or his family requesting for additional dowry. This is usually taking place after a consensus had been reached by both families before the marriage was done. This request is usually aimed at murdering the current bride in order for the groom to remarry. Moreover, the murder could be to punish the bride and her family for failing to meet the dowry demands.

Domestic violence issues frequently do not relate or involve many people including neighbors. For this reason, the bride silently suffers in agony. Likewise, the issue is minimized or diminished so that the bride is not assisted by any outside parties. To that end, the results do not often lead to prosecutions. There are many scenarios that are involved in dowry deaths and also predispositions that have led to India having so prevalent dowry deaths. However, the current legislation is not equipped well enough to foresee that women in marriage are not subject to dowry deaths. The main solution is to expose this act and to make it known to all that its prevalence may come to an end.

Dowry deaths have for years been a major problem in India (Parmar, 2014). Every other day the headlines are about dowry deaths. This has majorly been fueled by circumstances such as, traditional mentalities, social inheritance, and even lifestyles that are prevalent in the families. Moreover, it is women who act against themselves especially when the mother-in-law’s approach differs from that of the mother to the bride.

It is the government’s duty to ensure the protection of women in their early marriages from any form of unnatural deaths. The Dowry-Prohibition Act was set in motion in 1961 to be observed all over the country of India. This Act was established to bar the receiving and giving of dowry. Yet, attaining this has been a major challenge since its commencement.

In the Indian Penal Code of the mid-1980s, the section 304-B was created to deal with the dowry deaths. What’s more, section 498- A was also created to deal with the cruelty of husbands or their in-laws to their wives. Having said that, education of females will ensure that they are knowledgeable about their rights and that they can fight for themselves. Furthermore, awareness programs also go a long way in ensuring that women are equipped in order to be able to handle any such scenarios. Severe punishments to offenders help minimize the occurrence of this evil.

The death of young married women is mainly associated with sociocultural negotiations. The law gives precedence to victims and motivated constructions (Jyoti Belur N. T., 2014). Moreover, the police classify the dowry deaths in accordance with their interests. This leads to poor investigations and thus insufficient evidence. Similarly, these factors lead to a miscarriage of justice which leaves the family of the victim in pain and regret.

The most common type of dowry death is the one that arises from burns. Other forms of deaths that arise from this evil include poisoning and hanging. Legal provisions have been enacted to curb these deaths that arise from such huge cruelty. Once death of a bride occurs and is classified as a dowry death the husband together with his family become prime suspects to the crime.

The husband can demand cash, jewelry or any valuable thing as payment for the dowry. If the dowry paid is not satisfactory it could lead to unrest to the husband and his family. This further impacts the bride by causing tension in her life that could even lead to her committing suicide. There has been a steady increase in the number of deaths in India over the years as shown in the table below.

Table 1. Recorded dowry deaths in India (Crime in India 2011).







Number of deaths






The classification of some the dowry deaths as ‘death brokering’ has been one of the major challenges. Death brokering refers to the rendering of deaths as culturally appropriate.

There are high rates of domestic violence in India that lead to adverse health implications (Ameeta S. Kalokhe, 2016). Thus, effective ways and measures are to be taken to prevent to do the measure of efficacy in such interventions.

Most literature reviews have related domestic violence to cultures. Moreover, they have not focused on the need to use culture to reform the evil of bride burning. In the use of culture to curb bride-burning and domestic violence there was a development of the family tool known as the Indian Family Violence and Control Scale (IFVCS). This family tool was arrived at after intense testing and issuing of questionnaires to a sample of six hundred and thirty married women from India.

The binary data item response theory approach was used to establish the IFVCS factors to show its structure and also reliability. It was found to be highly reliable with the results having high loading factors. Thus, the approach was accepted as the one to be used to measure domestic violence among women who are married. This is also intended to show the level of interventions into domestic violence. Likewise, it can be used to measure and thus check on the effectiveness of various policies, laws, and provisions that are put in place to safeguard against domestic violence.

Low and middle-income countries are the most affected by burns (Nayreen Daruwalla, 2014). Coupled with this they are more prevalent in women than they are to men. These burns can occur for one of the many various reasons which could be accidental or non-accidental. Similarly, it could be homicidal or suicidal most of which is normally unclear.

Many studies have been put forth in determining the causes of bride burning. The more significant reasons that stand out are the much bigger combination of poverty and cultural precedent which make it even difficult to distinguish between attempted suicides and attempted homicide. Poverty can lead to burns in a variety of ways, inflammable clothing, issues with the cooking equipment, and even space constraint problems. These only accounted for the smaller percentage of the burn incidences.

Majority of those who are victims are due to domestic violence. Interviews were done to determine why there were prevalent burns in marriages especially those leading to dowry deaths. The results were shocking. Most women were generally pessimistic and blamed the law enforcement officials for not being able to gather quality and valid forensic evidence. With insufficient convincing evidence and reliance on testimonies means that a lot of women do not get the justice they deserve but rather the culprits are left free to wander the streets.

In conclusion, bride-burning is a vice that should be done away with not only through the law but also through the culture. Furthermore, families and the society as a whole should contribute in shunning away this evil.


Ahmad, d. N. (2008). Dowry deaths (bride burning) in India and abetment of suicide: a socio-legal appraisal. Journal of East Asia & international law.

Ameeta s. Kalokhe, r. S. (2016). The development and validation of the Indian family violence and control scale. Journal pone.

Banerjee, p. R. (2013). Dowry in 21st-century India. The sociocultural face of exploitation.

David, t. A. (2007). Community norms and cultural attitudes and beliefs factors influencing violence against women of reproductive age in Nigeria. Pakistan journal of social sciences, 490-495.

James, l. S. (1995). Dowry, bride-burning, and female power in India. Women's studies international forum, 125-134.

Jutla R.K, h. D. (2004). Love burn an essay about bride burning in India. The Journal of burn care and rehabilitation, 165-170.

Jyoti Belur, n. T. (2014). The social construction of ‘dowry deaths’. Social science & medicine, 1-9.

Nayreen Daruwalla, j. B. (2014). A qualitative study of the background and in-hospital medicolegal response to female burn injuries in India.

Parmar, p. (2014). Dowry death and law – Indian scenario. International archives of integrated medicine, 44-49.

Umar, m. (1998). Bride burning in India: a socio-legal study. Aph publishing.

April 13, 2023

Culture World Family

Subject area:

Indian Culture India Marriage

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