15 Legal Writing: J. Legal Writing Inst. 213 (2009)
Using Dowry Death Law to Teach Legal Writing in India

handle is hein.journals/jlwriins15 and id is 235 raw text is: USING DowRY DEATH LAW TO TEACH LEGAL
WRITING IN INDIA
Marilyn R. Walter*
I. INTRODUCTION
Dowry, the money, property or other goods a bride brings
with her into the marriage,1 has been part of Indian culture for
centuries. Dowry was originally based on the practice under Hin-
du law of the bride's father giving her gifts in honor of the mar-
riage. These gifts would remain the bride's property. Now, how-
ever, in many cases, and at all economic levels of society, the vo-
luntary aspect of dowry and the bride's ownership of the gifts
have disappeared. Rather, before marriage, the dowry price is the
subject of negotiation between the families, with the groom's fam-
ily in the position of power. Conflicts over dowry may have dead-
ly results, as I learned on my sabbatical in India in the spring of
2008.
A month after I arrived in New Delhi, I noticed a small article
in The Times of India. The headline was Dowry Angle to Death,
and the article read:
* Professor of Law and Director of the Writing Program, Brooklyn Law School. The
Author wishes to thank Elizabeth Fajans who made insightful comments on an earlier
draft of this essay and Ved Kumari of the Law Faculty of Delhi University who made my
visit to her Law Faculty possible. In addition, the Author is grateful for the support pro-
vided by the Brooklyn Law School sabbatical program.
1. Veena Talwar Oldenburg, Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural
Crime 3 (Oxford U. Press 2002).
Under Indian criminal law, dowry is defined in the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961,
section 2 as
[Any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or in-
directly-
(a)By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
(b)By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party
to the marriage or to any other person, at or before or any time after the marriage
in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dowry or
mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

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