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Bera Murder Appeal Partly Allowed

By Vijay Panjwani, Advocate.

Thursday May 3, 2012.

The murder appeal raised important issues:

(i)           of excessive incarceration than maximum permissible under  which accused appellants finally convicted by Supreme Court .

(ii)          indiscriminate use of Section 302 IPC prescribing capital sentence rather than 304-B IPC in a case of dowry death.

(iii)        no bail to mother in law continuously for 14 years and one month.

Lawyer appointed by supreme court to defend  neglected to file bail application on behalf of mother in law for many years.

Briefly the facts are that a young woman named Mayarani was married to Gokul in West Bengal. A part of the agreed dowry was satisfied at the time of marriage. Both families were residents of neighbouring villages and belonged  to weaker section of society.They worked as daily wagers. A few months after marriage  Mayarani’s  in-laws started taunting her about lack of dowry, at her inability to do household chores, and on her physical attributes. Mayarani was a large boned well fed fat woman. She was addressed to as ‘Bhondi’ a term used in Bengal for fat women.

In the third year in-laws patience ran out and the and demand for ‘arrears dowry’ became a daily routine but no physical violence was reported to any one. However, in-laws encouraged her to commit suicide. They said a fat woman must bring a fat dowry. Finally, unable to bear the mental torture Bhondi escaped to her parental home from where she was returned to her in-laws with promise to pay ‘arrears dowry’. Bhondi and her mother were abused and insulted. And four days later at 2 PM news reached Bhondi’s parents that she died of burn injuries at 6 AM in the morning.

The medical evidence showed the body was charred. No external injuries were found. All internal organs- liver, kidneys, viscera was intact. In such a situation the doctor failed to find injuries and wrote ‘no cause of death could be found’. The police stuck to its strange version that Bhondi was killed by strangulation  in the matrimonial home by in-laws and then taken out and her body burnt partially and brought back to matrimonial home. The forensic report and  burnt  items seized from the crime scene said some other story which was hidden but not so cleverly as to escape scrutiny in supreme court. The doubts once raised about the veracity of evidence do not go easily.

The prosecutor in supreme court  was unable to show from record evidence of ingredients to prove murder. The appellants/accused [thru vijay panjwani] were shown not to have committed   murder . In a plea bargaining appellants counsel suggested conversion of   murder  to a lesser conviction of dowry death. For reasons recorded  the supreme court set aside the high court  judgment  on muder with life imprisonment and convicted the accused/appellants under section 304-B for dowry death to sentence already undergone. Husband and father in law were on bail since 2006 after 8 years incarceration and mother in law 14 years imprisonment in Midnapore Jail. The fine was set aside and bail bonds of the male accused persons discharged.It is for readers to form an opinion how this category of family cases should be tried.

VIJAY PANJWANI

ADVOCATE

NEW-DELHI

Dt: 3-5-2012.

 

2

There is this group of men and women on the internet who seem to have a deep and abiding contempt for the Section 498A of the IPC – the Dowry Act. This section of people seem to see the Dowry Act as a weapon evil women use against men. They find nothing illogical in the fact that a woman who has no property to her name and will essentially be rendered stigmatized and alone in the world will do this out of the blue – for no reason at all. Worse, it seems that a majority of women are like that and the Dowry Act should be repealed. New terms are being created domestic violence against men. It seems our phenomenally misogynist police force targets these men for being bad to women.

They pull out statistics out of unmentionable parts of their anatomies, and a general population addicted to never thinking for themselves nod their heads gravely. After all, isn’t it better to agree with the one more likely to be more difficult to disagree with? These are also coincidentally people who haven’t raised their voices against any other victimization of women either. They are also coincidentally people who believe any laws protecting women are misused by women – women in India have nothing better to do than make false claims of domestic violence, rape, molestation, and so on.

This is nothing out of the usual. Our culture is deeply misogynistic. It is the norm to believe the woman to be wrong anywhere she conflicts with a man. The smallest things start looking like proofs. There are actually men who have claimed wives “forcing them to watch” soap operas as domestic abuse. No, they don’t mean they are tied in a chair, eyelids propped open with matchsticks and a gun at their heads. They simply mean that their wives watch soap operas when they are in the room, and they will, of course not do something else. They will watch and whine. They are men. They have penises. They are being abused.

Anyway, coming to some of the ridiculous claims floating around, but dangerous, because they encourage a contempt for women at large as abusive creatures and resistance to any women’s rights. This is dangerous in a country losing women like it had a leak. Incidentally, some “bold” women too share this contemptuous hatred. Misogyny is not limited to the male of the species.

One popular article quoted by these people is called Tortured hubbies, victims of 498 (A) in IBNLive. It describes two men who allegedly were falsely accused and comes to some data that is going near viral.

Statistics suggest that Gokul and Sohail are just the tip of the iceberg.

*In 2004, 58,319 dowry cases were registered

*1,34,757 men were arrested

*47,828 cases have reached the chargesheet stage

*10,491dowry cases were not chargesheeted as they were based on frivolous ground.

*However, 5,739 men have been convicted but more than four times that number have been acquitted (24,127)

The first three statistics are simply factual numbers. The second two seem to be the key ones driving people to seeing 498 (A) as the greatest evil since sliced television.

Out of 58,319 dowry cases, 47,828 or 82% were chargesheeted – which means the cops found enough to make a case – they have to write something in that chargesheet, you know?

Then, you have 10,491 or 12% cases that were not chargesheeted as they were based on “frivolous ground”. Considering how it is unlikely that the “frivolous ground” comes from data, I can only assume it is a quality assigned by the reporter. A case not being chargesheeted can have many reasons. A common one is the victim being bullied into silence. Another common one being that cops DO NOT WANT to do it. Two examples from this blog:

  • I am a victim of domestic violence. Police have made three visits to my home after receiving calls from me when my husband got dangerously aggressive. In EACH TIME, they wanted me to “understand”. Understand what? That my husband has the natural right to terrify the daylights out of my child at 3am? My case is comparatively minor. There is no physical violence involved, though there is constant mental harassment.
  • Try Naina Singh’s story. She died under inexplicable circumstances a few hours after being fine and speaking with her mother. There were abundant reasons and signs to suspect murder. Her mother claims there were dowry demands. The police were initially helpful, and then not. They ruled her death natural. A couple of weeks back, after a long struggle, the court ORDERED the cops to file a case.

This is how willing the police are, to file cases. Sometimes it may be a simple matter of not having enough evidence to convince them, even though they are not required to have evidence. In a country where women are openly paraded naked or asked by the village leader and entire village to commit suicide because they had the misfortune to be gang raped, a charge sheet not being filed can’t exactly be proof of “frivolous”. Even if it was, 82% cases getting chargesheets filed and 18% being “frivolous” is nowhere near “misuse of 498(A)”

Now for the “damning fact”:

However, 5,739 men have been convicted but more than four times that number have been acquitted (24,127)

So, we consider the total men getting judgment as 5,739 + 24,127 = 29,866. A conviction is about having evidence and  proving the case convincingly in court. Geelani is acquitted. Strangely, it is this same bunch of idiots also saying that he shouldn’t have been. Why one standard for those acquitted in a dowry case, and another for a terrorism case, when the laws for both are “flawed”? Anyway, logic has little to do with these claims. Moving on.

This 5,739 men convicted means a 9.8% conviction rate. This is being interpreted as misuse of dowry act, so let us see what else is being used in the country to hassle innocents, right?

According to Times of India:

Of the 1.37 lakh IPC cases pending before various magisterial and civil and sessions court in Mumbai in 2006, just about 2,512, or 1.83%, ended in convictions , while a bulk-6 ,366 cases-resulted in acquittal orders. More than 92% of the cases remained pending.

Should we scrap the entire Indian Penal Code, while we are at it? No? Think again:

The trend worsened in 2010, when of the total 1.68 lakh criminal cases awaiting justice, the prosecution could secure conviction orders in just 1,948 cases, plunging the conviction rate to an all-time low of 1.15%.

Now, should we scrap the IPC? Its not working in Thane either:

The conviction rate in cases filed by the Thane police commissionerate has never touched the 1% mark in the last five years. From 0.31% in 2006, the conviction rate slipped to 0.26% in 2010. Out of the 69,481 cases pending in various courts in Thane in 2006, only 218 cases ended in conviction orders, while 2,472 resulted in acquittals,

What do you say? If something with a conviction rate of 9.8% is misuse, then this is absolute total misuse, right? When are you trying to get rid of the entire penal code? Go read that article. All the numbers in it are worse than this one. Another article, again TOI.

Maharashtra saw the second-highest number of FIRs filed for sexual harassment in 2010.

Earlier in the same article:

An abysmal 5% of sexual harassment cases decided in Maharashtra last year resulted in the accused being convicted, way below the all-India average of 52 %.

Hmm… maybe we should scrap the sexual harassment laws in Maharashtra alone. Conviction rate as a measure of the utility of the law is plain old ignorance of the legal system. I refuse to take responsibility for your stupidity.

Anyway, you get the idea. Get a calculator, open up a google search and figure this one out for yourself if you still don’t get it.

Moving on, there is a minor claim to dispose.

99.8% dowry cases r false as per law ministry report

Don’t go hassling this guy, because this is a very popular claim. No one knows where it originated. No one has provided me a link to such a law ministry report. This one is beyond stupid, because the number of dead bodies and hospitalizations alone crosses 0.2% of all dowry cases. This time, do the googling yourself, because even if you counted individual reports, you’d get enough hits to debunk this one. [Hint: If you use total number from above example, 58,319 then 0.2% of it is 116.6 cases. In the entire year, were there those many dowry deaths and hopitalizations? Now add the cases that don't make it to the media and the cases that don't involve death or hospitalization, because the complaint was filed on time.]

Then there is this bizarre cult AIMWA that has come up that claims

Out of 100000 men surveyed during that one year, 98% of men faced severe domestic violence at the hands of their wives.

I say cult, because there are dozens of sites with almost the exact same content and claims.

The only problem with this statistic is that the people they surveyed may sound like a random sample of Indians, but in fact were the complaints their helpline got. No shit Sherlock! What did they expect? A men’s abuse helpline would get calls about tailoring classes?

This is like saying 100% of the population of India is under the age of 10 years, because you surveyed a primary school. This is like saying 40% of the population of India gets killed everyday, because the police helpline receives 40% their calls about deaths everyday. This statistic is more a reflection o9f lack of education than the reality of men.

To the best information I tried to find out, there was ZERO investigation attached. You can call them now and tell them your wife beats you, and you’re in their statistics. Hmm… no wonder they think the Dowry Act is being misused baselessly? After all, don’t we see ourselves in the world?

If these statistics were true, it is impossible that an account like mine that staunchly condemns abuse against women would have about 50% followers male and supporting me!!!

And it goes on and on. People WANT to believe women as evil creatures, and will quickly grab whatever authoritative sounding bullshit they come across without examining it too much, because they are in a hurry to use it. Media too, ever hungry for sensation likes these “popular” alternatives to the depressing thought of women victims. I have yet to see any media outlet debunk this bullshit of men being “equally” abused in India “by women”.

Does this mean that there is no domestic violence against men? Of course not. There is. And there needs to be more done to recognize it and support victims. At the same time, it is nowhere near “equal prevalence” as these sites like to claim. The great damage these people do with their rubbish claims is that they drown out genuine problems men face in piles of bull shit.

Does this mean that the Dowry Act is perfect? Of course not. It is a desperate measure to protect. It bends rules. At the same time, that bending is seen as a necessity because of the prevalence. Are there improvements possible? Of course, and several have been suggested, including a notable one to record all gifts at the wedding and sign off by both parties. Another one might be to keep copies of receipts all expensive “dowry” items provided as proof and make it more evidence based, but that will take time. Steps should be initiated to minimize the harm to men accused wrongly. At the same time, seeing as how there are far more women than men harmed, it is not a useful idea to remove the act completely and offer criminals impunity simply because their crimes happen in the privacy of homes and without neutral witnesses. The number of innocents harmed would be far higher, but they would be women, which is why many misogynists don’t care and would prefer to save the few men wrongly accused instead.

As for men claiming that they were falsely framed, show me the man who admitted that he harmed his wife for dowry! There was one person on Twitter who claimed that he had three cousins married and all three got falsely accused under the dowry act. Let me get this right. Three separate women from three separate houses enter your family and have the same police case against their husbands? Is it possible that they spoke the truth? Or are we supposed to take your word for the ultimate truth and condemn them for liars? You would, of course immediately report if your cousin actually asked for dowry? Bull shit. Worth considering, since I hardly know anyone at all with a dowry case filed against them – true or false – and this person has three cousins from the same family being accused of the same thing.

The other problem with these people is that their purpose with these strident accusations is to deny women the attention they need rather than make a cause for the needs of men. Their intent is to sabotage claims of women’s rights supporters and prevent any statements that show women as victims of men from remaining. This is less about the victimization of men, as it is the denial that women do suffer more discrimination than men – a fact well established in so many statistics, surveys, papers and more that it is like claiming the earth is flat.

Unfortunately, this attitude of aggressive fact writing leaves no room for the vulnerability of men. When I invited several to debate actions that could be taken to help men survivors of sexual abuse in conflict, exactly ZERO of them showed any interest. One actually went back to recommending that far more “common problems” like wives forcing husbands to watch soap operas be taken up first. This is the bullshit bandwagon.

Here are things I need done. Kindly do the needful.

  • Quit aping the west on the dehumanization, and instead copy the concept of safe houses. You can't do shit for women unless you can offer those in trouble a safe place to stay.
  • Have special courts for women's rights abuse. Setting them up will be a statement in itself that you are taking women's rights seriously. And trust me, we have enough fodder to keep them in business for a long time.
  • Get conviction rates happening. in 2008-2009, over 40% of women marring were under 18 years of age. Only 111 complaints happened. Out of that, a pathetic 11 got convicted, and ZERO came to public attention. Go spectacular. Think women's rights world cup or something. Don't wait for complaints. Hunt 'em down, prosecute, convict spectacularly. Watch the numbers deflate.
  • Same thing for dowry. I have written a post earlier on how to defeat dowry. Take it seriously. Implement it also for child marriages (earlier point). Take the war on their turf - to use a Bushism.
  • When a the Minister for Women and Children is caught on camera watching porn in the assembly when another serious human issue of drought is being debated, and when the state is fooling around asking for questions, fucking intervene. Prime Minister, President, whoever. Get these guys unceremoniously sacked and banned from public office. Not asked for explanations and asked to resign, as thought they have a choice, and there are good answers if these people can find them.
  • Educate police officers on Human Rights. Soni Sori's torture is one thing. Last time I called cops to help when the husband got drunk and abusive, they thought I was making a fuss. The husband agreed next morning that he had been unacceptably obnoxious. Cops told his friend to ask me to be reasonable. And yeah, the husband also insulted the cops, for which they did get pissed with him, but not for something minor like domestic abuse. This is how women commit suicide, you know? When they are refused support. I read a recent story of a woman who suffered from domestic abuse and jumped herself and child from the 12th floor and was grateful our windows have fixed grills for my blacker moments.
  • Make sexual harassment a non-bailable offense. We really don't need those creeps out on the streets unless their innocence is proven.
  • Up the punishment on rapes, women/children/dalit's rights abuse [three massive areas of shame] and human rights abuses in general. Keep castration and hanging both on the table for severe crimes and make sure there are at least a few every year. Trust me, we have enough criminals to run short and the lives you save will be more useful than the lives you take. *more on this later. **and more
  • Start awards for people who defend women's rights. Regular citizens who do extraordinary things.
  • Media. Make every serious rape conviction mandatory to be reported in media. As in, get some eyeballs on those castrations and hangings. Not the actual executions of the judgments of course, but the fact that they happened. That will do more to prevent rapes than the rest of this entire list.
Seriously, DO THIS. Right now, it doesn't feel like the government has a problem with citizens being harmed. You must rise to their protection, not grudgingly process complaints that can't be avoided. That is how safety is created.

* I am actually against the death penalty. I believe we should evolve to a place where we can create a safe space in jails for the reform and rehabilitation of criminals and reintegration into society- no matter how severe the crime. To never take away the possibility that honest change can bring forgiveness and a second chance at life - with appropriate monitoring and safeguards, of course. However, on many things, I have come to realize that there is something called ideal - what you work toward, and something that is real - that will give you results in the here and now. Normally, I never recommend compromising the ideal for a quick fix real, but the security of women and children in India is a National Emergency no one cares to declare. I would rather a rapist be denied the possibility of reform than him being relatively unharmed making the consequences of rape "affordable" to many. Not ideal, yes, but I think three rapists hanged making national  headlines in the country will do more to reduce rape rates than anything we are doing.

The other thing is that for being anti-capital punishment, there needs to be impeccable other punishment. I don't know if there is a court in India with a conviction rate of more than 20%. Most cases are lost due to lack of evidence. In such a situation, it is very easy for a criminal to experience impunity. Overburdened cops with entrenched misogynist attitudes and lack of nurture for developing that capacity cannot create the deterrence against breaking law. Then, the only solution is for the very slight risk to be magnified by making it unacceptably high - to have any deterring effect at all.

** Obviously, the criminals getting irreversible punishment (other than psychological and lost time - which is for all) - punishment like castrations or hanging - should happen in absolutely undeniable crime, which is proved with evidence and there is no room for doubt. But there are some kinds of crimes in particular that I think deserve death and no one should have the power to grant mercy except the victim (every victim of that person, if more than one) - not even the president:

  • Gang rapes. Hang em all. Seriously.
  • Any rapes that result in the victim being hospitalized. Hang 'em. In the case of minors under 16, no one has the right to pardon, since a person under 16 in India isn't legally capable of consent till 16 years of age. Consensual sex under 16 is also considered rape. Same logic should apply.

Other serious punishments should be considered, like children of rape inheriting rapists entire property at the time of rape. Everything the man has. No matter how rich or poor. Though I suppose his dependents may have to be accommodated - not their fault.

Such things. Come down like a ton of bricks, not this insipid and half hearted way, where mostly the cops and judges act like they would like the woman to shut up. A judge actually recommended rape victims marrying rapists as some kind of solution! This won't do.

 

This may seem extreme, but this is an essential. Kidding you not. We are the fourth worst country in the world to be a woman in and the absolute worst to be a girl child in. We are the largest democracy in the world, and among the top largest countries by population. To have bad rape rates is one thing, our size makes us possibly the top contributors to world women's abuse. If we must run a large country, we must face that to have shoddy human rights makes a massive dent on what humanity is allowed on the planet itself.

We need to get out butts off this list. For ourselves, for the world.

6

I wrote this post quite a few times, totally different each time, and finally decided to scrap it all to simply state my bottom line.

There is a lot of gender inequality in the world. Women are often victimized for being women. There is high and increasing incidence of violent crimes like rapes, murders, acid attacks, brutal beatings, forced marriages, dowry demands, dowry deaths, threats of harm, honor killings, molestations... the list goes on and on.

Every time I have written on the subject, I have had a few people pestering me insisting that I talk about harm done to men. Yet, every time I have asked them to bring up enough content to protest for men's rights, none have returned. Some examples provided by such activists for men's rights have ranged from "wife forcing me to watch stupid TV shows" to "economic terrorism", in the sense of asking to give money at home. None of these petty examples have included those with any physical harm or loss of life.

This is a tiring and petty attitude. It is immature and abusive to even compare loss of life with being forced to watch a TV show, yet I am flooded with these inane comments every time I speak up for a cause.

However, these comments serve an important purpose. They serve to demonstrate the massive sense of entitlement most men have, where it doesn't even seem irrational to present such examples as a part of a serious objection to raising awareness of women's rights. It is this utter disregard for what a woman goes through that has remained the hallmark of a culture that sanctions and turns a blind eye toward abuse. Where the male in his prime years is held in such high esteem that his inconvenience or irritation holds more weight than countless deaths scrolling through our newspapers on a daily basis.

Such men usually hate me, but prefer to call me a man hater instead. They do not like the attention not being on them. They do not like not being the ones receiving attention. They do not like to own any accountability for any harm from callous attitudes as they demonstrate. Their largest problem with me is that they are not able to prevent me from speaking up, they are not able to distract me from speaking up, they are not able to prove me wrong. I hold the attention firmly on the cause and do not allow it to be derailed. So, I am "insensitive to the rights of men".

It is ugly, but it is as innocent as a child's tantrum, for the simple reason that they have not reached a point in their learning where they are able to appreciate people. If I hated them, I would be doing an injustice, because ignorance may be irritating, but it is not a crime, and it is never deliberate. No one aspires to be insensitive.

Sadly, such men are also the vast majority. Which is also the problem with creating a safer society with women. Half the population sees no need for making any such effort. Crime statistics mean nothing to them, and pointing those statistics out irritates them, because they don't think it should take up too much attention.

Others claim to support women, but there is this patronizing cage. They support women "to a certain extent". They allow women some rights, as long as they don't do it "too much". So, these people look like support, but they are not, and that hurts more, because till that point, there is this illusion of that person actually caring.

And, in the midst of this mediocre, unenlightened sea of humanity, are some men who genuinely see women as people. They don't believe they have any rights to impose limits on another. They see injustices and raise their voice. They recognize that women often get suppressed and have no problem in accepting and supporting this as something that needs fixed on an urgent basis. These are men the world needs more of.

Not so surprisingly, these are also the men who are sensitive to the rights of men. Not the TV torture types, but real harm being done to men, that chauvinists don't notice just like they don't notice harm to women, because they are simply not tuned in to others. They grudge women more, because women suffer injustice more. It isn't like they are capable of understanding men either. A person sensitive to another has no insecurity with a cause taking up all the space it needs to.

It is the sign of a mature person. A confident person, who is not diminished by others being nurtured.

A friend had married last year. We hated the guy and had refused to attend the wedding. Her parents had reluctantly agreed. The man was a peacock. He was so full of his own importance that he simply didn't care about anyone else and as this led to irresponsibility and conflicts. A year after their marriage, she was back at her parents place with a black eye. Two days after she left, the boy came to her father's house to "convince her to not destroy her life and come home". Her father refused to let him in the house, told him to go away and conduct any further communications through a divorce lawyer and threatened to call the cops if he didn't leave at once.

This takes a man. A man who sees his daughter as a human being being wronged and doesn't consider idle chatter of a spiteful world enough reason to make her suffer more. Sure, she got a lecture about her irresponsible actions and refusal to listen to any of us, but that did not mean that she would have to pay for it by suffering.

There are men who think for themselves, and expect that a woman has as much right to live and be happy as a man. Men who do not force women to comply to imposed rules. They are also free in a sense most men are not able to understand. They are free from having to always be in the right and proving superior that victimizes many men.

A tantrum throwing man who has a problem with another person getting too much attention is juvenile. It is the opposite of sexy like a headache is the opposite of aroused. There is no sense of ease, of freedom, of enough relaxation for attraction to bloom. It is a jumpy game of power, where everything is seen through a rigid, defensive lens of approval and disapproval.

On the other hand, a man who enjoys seeing a woman being herself, who is able to see a difference as a healthy thing and doesn't make a monument out of winning every tiny issue is sexy because there is a sense of being real. A trust in being able to understand the relationship by things making sense, rather than comply out of some vague sense of hierarchy and how a relationship should be.

In my eyes, a man worthy of respect is one I can safely disagree with without suffering for it. I don't have to dumb myself down and pretend stupid or risk hurting their ego. These men are attractive, and I am not speaking of "sexual attraction" here. I am speaking of charismatic, magnetic personalities you can be yourself with. Men rooted firmly in their values rather than rules. Like being with a superstar as an equal. Very fun. No matter what the age.

These are also the men who happen to say NO to the rubbish hangovers of an oppressive past. These are the men who are truly free to evolve.

 

This Blog is part of the Men Say No Blogathon, encouraging men to take up action against the violence faced by women. 
More entries to the Blogathon can be read at www.mustbol.in/blogathon. Join further conversation on facebook.com/delhiyouth & twitter.com/mustbol

14

More needs to be done to reduce the risk of harm to women because of the practice of dowry. A proactive approach would go a long way toward preventing dowry related crimes.

We have laws against dowry. The laws are not against dowry deaths and abuse alone, but the practice of dowry is illegal according to THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961. (Act No. 28 of 1961). Our policing of this is non-existent. It seems as though the law enforcement is apologetic and hesitant to enter people's personal space to enforce law. Personal space of course being defined as whatever people choose to define it, including illegal practices.

Shy smile of a bride in a Hindu wedding by kunjan detroja

As though "allowing" giving and taking dowry to happen is not a crime unless "crime" is committed. Conveniently forgetting that Dowry IS crime. Our police force is reactive rather than proactive, and there needs to be massive reform in terms of applying the writ of the law without waiting for complaint or worse, outrage after dowry deaths claim lives.

As a result, our main contact with dowry as a practice is through its victims. Dead women. Women in hospital. That is too little, too late. Not to mention an increasingly influential if illogical view that complaints of dowry and domestic abuse are just ways women victimize their in-laws out of greed.

Sure killers of women should be punished, but that is the punishment for murder. Where is the enforcing of the Dowry Prohibition Act unless a complaint is made?

  • If dowry happens off the public domain, then informers need to be cultivated among those where it is prevalent. Approach matrimonial services, recruit informers conduct stings and put people behind bars for accepting dowry WITHOUT the marriage happening and women and their reputations being hostage to retribution and thus silent. THAT will give any anti-dowry movement teeth.
  • Spend some money on public service ads - make heroes out of people whistle blowing dowry. Trigger more such heroes in society.
  • Publicize a helpline number for dowry people can call if they come to know of any wedding or domestic situation involving dowry.
  • Ask doctors to alert police about suspected mistreatment of women - regardless of whether the woman wants to complain or not. Even if every case cannot be investigated without specific details about abuse, enough alerts about a certain family should automatically trigger an investigation - possibly in collaboration with social workers. This will also help with domestic abuse.
  • Condemnation of dowry by religious leaders: Encourage religious leaders to openly condemn the practice of dowry and educate their followers.
  • Stop treating dowry and the abuse around it as a multiple choice answer. It is illegal. Period. If you see it happening, you don't need a victim's permission to tell the cops. Nor do cops need a victim's consent to investigate a crime. In fact, not having the victim's consent will keep her safer if she is not the one getting the family in trouble, and get the family cautious knowing that others have noticed and that they are under investigation.
  • Get into the space of the dowry doers, so that that space is no longer safe for them to operate in. THAT is how this is going to stop - not by providing a safe zone of allowed crimes and only acting when any spill over happens.
  • Drugs happen off public areas too. How do police combat drug trafficking? Same logic. Cultivate informers, infiltrate, set up stings, catch red handed, put behind bars. This MUST be done, or we might as well scrap  THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT, 1961, because abuse, injury and murder are covered by other regular laws too.
  • And other organizations or individuals can do it too. Inform your local police station that you will be pretending to accept/give dowry, and send them info on when they can do a sting. This kind of thinking should be encouraged in colleges.
  • There were some who called it entrapment. So? Dowry is still a crime. Do we call drug busts invalid because the undercover cop pretended to strike a deal? What kind of garbage logic is this?
  • Publicly show on national television and publicize highly a dowry bust. Let people know that the person they are making a dowry deal with could be setting them up for prison and there is no way of knowing if that person, or anyone who knows - relatives, friends, siblings.... could inform by simply calling the number you see everyday on TV. Make it known that that way lies destination prison. Highlight it. THAT is the best deterrent you will ever be able to create.
  • Be okay with being wrong - in investigating someone who isn't giving or taking dowry. That is the whole idea of investigation - finding out.
  • Make post mortems of women dead within 7 years of marriage mandatory. They are required by law. Enforce it. There should be an additional law punishing families that cremate or otherwise dispose the body before a post mortem can be conducted. Remember Naina Singh? It isn't such a rare incident. ENFORCE it.
  • Arrest cops who shield dowry crimes in India by preventing investigations as party to the crimes.
  • Many politicians are among those shielding and committing gender crimes. Allegations and suspicious coincidences must be immediately investigated. Any confirmed links should automatically disqualify that person for political space. No matter what their role or position.

This should do the trick. We have the laws. Now we need to get serious about them.

And then back it up with public service messages and in depth public debates around the practice of dowry. Blow the shroud of silence to bits and talk about this openly and take on the challenge.

Blow this practice of dowry out of the water. Finish it comprehensively. It can be done. Let us do it.