5 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J. 249 (2005)
Bride-Burning: The Elephant in the Room Is out of Control

handle is hein.journals/pepds5 and id is 255 raw text is: Bride-Burning: The Elephant in the
Room is Out of Control
Avnita Lakhani'
...We talk about the weather. We talk about work.
We talk about everything else, except the elephant in the room.
There's an elephant in the room.
We all know it's there. We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.
It is constantly on our minds. For, you see, it is a very large elephant.
It has hurt us all.... ,2
1. INTRODUCTION
We know it exists. We know thousands of women in India die every year
because of it. We know there is domestic legislation banning it. We know this
legislation is weak. We know there are international laws against human rights
violations. We also know they are not fully enforceable and binding on a sover-
eign state. We know it has historical, cultural, and societal roots. We know
these roots run deep even as they run crooked. We know there is an elephant in
the room and it is called bride-burning3 in India. We know this elephant is
large, pervasive, visible, pernicious, violent, and deadly. We know it is out of
1. This article is dedicated to those women in India who suffer in silence and to those who
work tirelessly to end the silence and give a voice and a solution to the problem of bride-burning.
Avnita Lakhani holds an LLM in International Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for
Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California. Ms. Lakhani
welcomes your comments and may be reached via e-mail (avnita@msn.com). Ms. Lakhani would
like to thank all of the staff members at Pepperdine's Dispute Resolution Law Journal for their hard
work and dedication in publishing this issue. This article is concurrently published in Volume 4 -
Issue 1 (Spring 2005) of the Rutgers Conflict Resolution Law Journal.
2. Terry     Kettering,   The    Elephant    in   the     Room     (poem),    at
http://www.bartow.kl2.ga.us/psych/crisis/elephant.htm (last visited November 29, 2004), among
other places.
3. Namratha S. Ravikant, Dowry Deaths: Proposing a Standard for Implementation of
Domestic Legislation in Accordance with Human Rights Obligations, 6 MICH. J. GENDER & L. 449,
456 (2000) (Bride-burning is currently defined as the practice of dousing a young bride with kero-
sene and setting her ablaze because of insufficient dowry. Because the sari she traditionally wears is
highly inflammable, the young bride burns to death in a violent way, leaving little evidence of foul
play.). Note that while I address bride-burning here, an equally violent practice is sati, where young
widows are expected to kill themselves at the funeral pyre of their dead husbands. The statistical
counts of young women who die of sati is not addressed here, but involve the same underlying
issues.

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