Weddings in India are steeped in tradition and culture. In Hinduism, there are multiple rules and religious requirements that need to be fulfilled to sanctify a marriage. One of the traditions that has been passed down in time is the system of dowry. The dowry was initially a way to help a bride be financially independent after going to her husband’s home. Today it is a way for a groom to extort money from a bride and her family.
I came across victims of dowry violence for the first time as a second-year medical student. I had noticed that the female burns ward was full and the male ward almost always empty. I found out that most of these women were victims of dowry violence—some with 92 percent burns and more.
After speaking to multiple NGOs, lawyers, academic researchers, doctors and social workers, I began to get a clearer picture of dowry violence for what it was. Here are the stories of three women who have had to suffer in silence.