13 Ariz. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 491 (1996)
The Dilemma of Dowry Deaths: Domestic Disgrace or International Human Rights Catastrophe

handle is hein.journals/ajicl13 and id is 505 raw text is: THE DILEMMA OF DOWRY DEATHS: DOMESTIC DISGRACE
Laurel Remers Pardee
[Wihen murders, tortures... go unchecked, more so when their
perpetrators (the worst people in the world) are treated as if they are
legitimate, the common humanity of all of us is stained.1
Six months after nineteen-year-old Santara married, her in-laws began
badgering her to ask her parents for money to buy a car. Why don't you go
home and get 50,000 rupees (about $1600), her mother-in-law told her,
[o]therwise we'll throw kerosene on you. Santara's family did not come
through with the money, and three months later, Santara's mother-in-law carried
out her threat. She poured kerosene on the young bride but, before she could
strike the match, Santara fled the house. She hid at a neighbor's home until her
mother came to rescue her.2
Santara's story does not end there. In India, a broken marriage is considered a
mar on the bride's family's honor. Consequently, soon after Santara returned to
her parent's home her mother began pressuring her to return to her husband's
home. Her mother went so far as to file a case of desertion against her husband,
hoping the courts would force him to take Santara back. I could not keep a
married daughter with me, Santara's mother said. There would be a stain on her
honor because she has been deserted. It would mean more and more dishonor for
me.3 Six months later the court ordered the husband's family to take Santara
back with a harsh warning against harming her.4 Whether Santara's in-laws will
pay heed to the court's warning remains to be seen.
The only thing remarkable about Santara's story is its ordinariness. Indeed,
her's is the paradigm tale of thousands of young Indian brides who attempt to
escape from an abusive marriage only to be sent back to their deaths. Despite the
Indian government's efforts to outlaw dowry and criminalize dowry-related deaths,
seventeen Indian women are reported burned, poisoned, strangled or otherwise
killed each day at the hands of husbands and in-laws whose greedy demands are not
1.   David Luban, The Romance of the Nation-State, 9 PEI. & PuB. AF. 392,
397 (1980).
2.   Molly Moore, Consumerism Fuels Dowry-Death Wave: Bride Burnings on
the Increase in India, WASH. POST, Mar. 17, 1995, at A35.
3.  Id.
4.  Id.

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