19 Conn. J. Int'l L. 209 (2003-2004)
Rights under Fire: The Inadequacy of International Human Rights Instruments in Combating Dowry Murder in India

handle is hein.journals/conjil19 and id is 217 raw text is: RIGHTS UNDER FIRE:
THE INADEQUACY OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS IN COMBATING DOWRY
MURDER IN INDIA
Meghana Shah*
I. INTRODUCTION
When Sunita Vir married in 1991, her father, Kalam Singh, spent over $5,000
on her dowry, which consisted of cash, steel trunks, cupboards, a sewing machine,
kitchen utensils, and most importantly, a black-and-white television set, a most
coveted possession among India's lower-middle class families.' Still, the elaborate
dowry was not enough for Sunita's new in-laws.' Less than two weeks after the
marriage, Sunita's husband and in-laws began demanding more dowry from
Sunita's family, specifically in the form of a new refrigerator. Sunita's parents
could not provide the additional goods, having already acquired a large amount of
debt to supply the original dowry With two other daughters to marry, they could
do no more. Sunita's in-laws began beating her for her failure to secure the
requested goods.' In 1993, less than two years after her marriage, Sunita's father-
in-law and brother-in-law held her down on a cot, while her husband doused her
with kerosene and set her alight.' Sunita died in the hospital, but not before making
a dying declaration accusing her in-laws of murder.' In Sunita's case, the Virs
were sentenced to life imprisonment.' This successful sentencing is a rarity in
India, where perpetrators of dowry violence frequently go unpunished.'
*   J.D. expected, University of Connecticut School of Law, 2004; B.A., McGill University,
2000. 1 am grateful for the guidance of Professor Laura Dickinson and the diligent efforts of the entire
Connecticut Journal of International Law staff that made this publication possible. I thank my parents
Dr. Dilip and Mrs. Bharti D. Shah, and my sister Shreya, for their unwavering support. I acknowledge
the valuable insights of Hiam Abbas and Mohini Datta-Ray. This note is dedicated fondly to Indian
women everywhere.
1.  Anita Pratap, Killed by Greed and Oppression, TIME MAGAZINE, Sept. II, 1995, Vol. 146,
No. II, available at http:/Iwww.time.com/time/internationall1995/95091 lwomen.in dia.html (last
visited Sept. 20, 2003).
2.  Id.
3.  Id.
4.  Id.
5.  Id.
6.  Id.
7.  Id.
8.  Manjaree Chowdhary, Miles to Go: An Assessment of the Enforcement Hurdles in the
Implementation of the Anti-Dowry Law in India, in SOUTH ASIANS AND THE DOWRY PROBLEM 151, 151
(Werner Menski ed., 1998); see also Debasree Banerjee, Dowry Verdict: Half-Step Forward, THE
HINDUSTAN TIMES, Aug. II, 1996, at 2.

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