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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2014 Jan;15(1):34-40. doi: 10.1177/1524838013496334. Epub 2013 Jul 29.

Dowry in 21st-century India: the sociocultural face of exploitation.

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  • 1The College at Brockport, The State University of New York, Brockport, NY, USA.


The World Health Organization (2009) implicates deep-rooted cultural and social norms as influential contributing factors toward physical and intimate partner violence against women. The dowry system is a social practice that perpetuates the oppression, torture, and murder of women in India. The practice of dowry is an expected part of marriage in cultures where arranged marriages are the norm. Violence can occur when the dowry or bride-price is deemed unsatisfactory by the recipient. In India, in spite of laws prohibiting the practice, not much has changed over the last 30 years. The National Crime Records Bureau of India, recorded a total of 8,618 female deaths related to dowry disputes in 2011, and the Asian Women's Human Rights Council (2009) estimates that the practice of dowry is implicated in 25,000 deaths and maiming of women between the ages of 15-34 in India every year. The current review of literature reveals that despite efforts on the part of the Indian government, social activists and feminists organizations in India, not much has changed over the past decade, in fact, the problem has increased, resulting in an unprecedented amount of mortality and morbidity among women in India.


cultural contexts; domestic violence; homicide

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