In India a bride whose family fails to provide what is considered an adequate dowry may be burned, mutilated or murdered by the husband and his family. Prevention of this abuse requires an understanding of the culture and tradition which says this behavior is acceptable.


Triggers for abuse:

(1) failure of the bride's family to provide the expected dowry

(2) suspicion of infidelity

(3) high level of violent behavior in the husband's family


Forms of abuse:

(1) humiliation

(2) harassment and verbal abuse

(3) physical burning or torture

(4) strangulation

(5) homicide


Some women who have been subjected to abuse may commit suicide. The husband's family may burn the body after committing murder and claim the wife was unstable and committed suicide.


Since cooking in many homes is done with primitive stoves accidental burns occur with some frequency. The husband's family may claim this occurred to mask their abuse.


Findings that may suggest deliberate burning:

(1) history of threats made by husband's family

(2) letters or written documents by the woman

(3) inconsistency between the family account and the physical evidence (claim of accidental fire yet kerosene or other fuel found in the hair or clothing; presence of injuries that indicate violence such as fractures, gunshot wounds, strangulation marks, etc.)


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