Supreme Court of India Modifies Anti-Dowry Law

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

NEW DELHI, India – The Supreme Court of India stated that the anti-dowry law is being misused in the country. Until dowry harassment charges can be verified, the court has ordered the authorities to stop arresting the accused.

Many have been protesting against the tough anti-dowry law. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Under the dowry system in India, the bride’s family transfers property or money to her husband as a condition of the marriage.

The practice of dowry, a long tradition in the Indian culture, has been banned since 1961. The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 implemented a tough anti-dowry law in the country. The law allows for immediate arrest of the accused but many have argued that it allows for women to file false cases. The original intent of the law was to help women, but many critics of the law stated that it is being used as “a weapon by disgruntled wives.” Although not many are convicted under this law, thousands of people are arrest every year.

To combat these issues, on July 27th, 2017, the Supreme Court of India ordered the states to establish family welfare committee to address dowry related problems. The court further established that all complaints received by the authorities must be given to the family welfare committee for its review. It is noted that no action can be taken against the husband and the in-laws until a full report is released.

In 2015, the Indian government’s data estimated that around 7,634 women were killed due to dowry-related issues. The centuries-old tradition of dowry continues to be an issue in India. Many anti-dowry proponents have argued that the tradition leaves women vulnerable to material issues which sometimes leads to violence and event death.

For more information, please see: 

BBC – India top court orders changes in anti-dowry law to stop misuse – 28 July, 2017

India Times – SC Stops Misuse Of Anti-Dowry Law By Women, No Arrest Can Be Make Until Charges Are Verified – 28 July, 2017

The Times of India – No arrest in dowry cases till charges are verified, says Supreme Court – 28 July, 2017

Nepal: Four Charged for Brutal Murder of a Journalist

By Pei Hu
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KATHAMANDU, Nepal – Nepal authorities have arrested four suspects for the murder of Uma Singh, a Nepalese reporter and women’s rights activist. On January 12th, Singh was murdered in her rented apartment room in the southern city of Janakpur. Singh was the first woman journalist to be killed in Nepal though many women journalists have been threatened.

According to international media watchdog, Reporters without Borders, around 15 men broke into Singh’s apartment and repeatedly battered her with blunt objects and then stabbed her to death. Singh died from the injuries sustained on her way to the capital when local attempts to help her failed. Singh was only 26 when she died.

Singh had criticized the caste system and written on a number of political issues. Her articles criticizing the dowry system, a tradition where the bride’s family has to pay significant sums of money and land to the groom’s family, created shock waves in Southern Nepal.

However the motives of her attackers are still unclear. Although four men have been arrested, an underground group claimed responsibility for Singh’s attack but stated it was ‘a mistake.’ Singh was working in a part of the country where there are many militants connected to an ethnic separatist movement. The militants want regional autonomy from the Maoist government.

Singh’s death caught international attention. The UN high Commissioner for Human Rights, Richard Bennett condemned the murder, “This tragedy should galvanise those responsible for protection of media freedom to take the necessary action to ensure the security of journalists.”

Reporters without Borders said, “This wave of violence against Nepalese journalists requires a firm response from the government, which must assume its responsibility and adopt effective measures to protect journalists.”

For more information, please see:

BBC –Nepal Radio Journalist Murdered–12 January 2009

RSF – Journalist and Women’s Rights Activist Brutally Murdered –12 January 2009

RSF – Four Arrested for Woman Journalist’s Murder, While Clandestine Group Claims Responsibility –14 January 2009

BBC – Picture of Uma Signh