One woman dies every hour due to dowry related reasons on an average in the country, which has seen a steady rise in such cases between 2007 and 2011, according to official data.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures state that 8,233 dowry deaths were reported in 2012 from various states. The statistics work out to one death per hour. The number of deaths under this category of crime against women were 8,618 in 2011 but the overall conviction rate was 35.8 per cent, slightly above the 32 per cent conviction rate recorded in the latest data for 2012.
The number of dowry deaths in the country has seen a steady growth during the period between 2007 and 2011. While in 2007, 8,093 such deaths were reported, the numbers rose to 8,172 and 8,383 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In 2010, 8,391 such deaths were reported, according to the NCRB.
The agency is the central nodal department to collect and process crime statistics at the national level. Police officials who deal with these crimes feel blame a variety of reasons. Suman Nalwa, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police (Special Unit for Women and Children), said the problem is not only limited to the lower or middle class. "Higher socio-economic strata is equally involved in such practices. Even the highly educated class of our society do not say no to dowry. It runs deep into our social system," she said.
The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage" and dowry here is defined as a gift demanded or given as a pre-condition for a marriage.
"The existing law has certain loopholes and needs to be made stricter. Despite the amendments made to the Dowry Act in 1983, good results are still desired to be achieved," Nalwa said. However, Kamini Jaiswal, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, says improper investigations by the police at the initial stage of a case slow down the process of judicial proceedings. "We need quick conviction in such cases. Our judicial procedure has become very slow, police does not record a case at initial stage," she said.