Jaipur: Before the three sisters and their children were found dead in the well, they left a message blaming the married family. Kal, Kamresh, and Mamtamina were victims of the dowry debate. Dowry is a large amount that Indian parents pay to marry their daughter. According to Trio’s mourning relatives, the sisters married a brother in the same household and lived under the same roof, but were constantly being violated by her husband and wife-in-law. They say they were constantly being abused, including when their father was unable to meet the demand for more money.

Last month, near the couple’s house in a village on the outskirts of Jaipur, all three were found dead, along with Cal’s four-year-old son and toddler. Both Kamlesh and Mamta were pregnant. “We don’t want to die, but death is better than their abuse,” the cousin said, reading a WhatsApp message left after one of his sisters disappeared. “Our in-law is the reason behind our death. We are dying together because it is better than dying every day.” Authorities are investigating the dead and are now treating them as suicide. Said a senior police officer in Jaipur to AFP.

The sister’s distraught father, Sardar Mina, said life was a living hell for daughters who banned their husbands from pursuing their education and constantly harassed them for more payments. .. “We have already given them a lot, you can see them in their home,” he tells AFP counting the beds, TVs and refrigerators he provided to his family. did.

“I’m the father of six girls. There is a limit to how much I can give,” added Sardar, who earns only a small income as a farmer. “I educated them, and it was difficult to do so.” Police accused three husbands and their mothers and sister-in-law of dowry harassment and abuse by her spouse. I was arrested. AFP’s attempt to contact the male family failed.

“Family dignity”

India outlawed dowry payments over 60 years ago, and harassment and extortion of payments is a criminal offense. However, especially in rural areas, the practice of treating women as an economic burden and demanding compensation for accepting women as brides continues.

Local media regularly report on property disputes between couples that end in murder. Last year, a man in southern Kerala used a venomous snake to kill his wife and exclusively managed their property, including a new car donated by the family as a dowry and Rupees 500,000 ($ 6,500). I was imprisoned for a lifetime.

The court was also disciplined for dealing with dowry harassment, imprisoning a man for 10 years in Kerala last month after being accused of demanding payment for committing his wife’s suicide. The prevailing divorce taboo (only one in 100 marriages in India ends in dissolution) keeps married women from thinking about escaping from abusive situations.

For Sister Mina, leaving was never seen as an option, even if their relatives were aware of the violence. “Once they got married, we thought they should stay in the couple’s house to maintain the dignity of the family,” Saldar said. “What would we do if we remarried them in another house and the situation got worse? We lose our face.”

‘End of the road’

India’s State Crimes Record Agency recorded about 7,000 dowry-related killings in 2020 — about 19 women daily. The same agency reported that more than 1,700 women committed suicide that year on “dowry-related problems.” Both numbers rely on police reports, and experts say the actual number of cases, like other data on domestic violence, is much higher. “About 30-40 women are victims of domestic violence in an hour … and these are just documented (incidents) and must be more than that,” said Indian Citizens Freedom. People’s Union activist Kavita Srivastava told AFP. ..

Sri Bastava said the dowry dispute involving Sister Mina was only part of their torturer’s efforts to control their lives and limit their independence. The root cause she added was the widespread social acceptance of domestic violence in India, which made women feel trapped in oppressive and violent relationships. “If even one woman has to commit suicide for her marital life to seem like the end of the road, I feel the Indian state has failed for those women,” she says. I did. – AFP

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