Dowry deaths are deaths of married women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by their husbands and in-laws over a dispute about their dowry, making the women's homes the most dangerous place for them to be.
Death is said to be a “dowry death” when –
(i) the death of a woman is caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under normal circumstances.
(ii) Such a death has occurred within seven years of her marriage.
(iii) She was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or relative of her husband.
(iv) Such cruelty or harassment is for the demand for dowry.
(v) Such cruelty or harassment is shown to have been meted out to the woman soon before her death.
The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry and are legal. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to₹5,000. It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states. Murder and suicide under compulsion are addressed by India's criminal penal code.
Under the protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA), a woman can put a stop to the dowry harassment by approaching a domestic violence protection officer.
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