The instances of misuse of anti-dowry laws have been on the rise in Bangalore of late, according to a study by women’s helpline Vanitha Sahayavani.
More than half of the dowry harassment complaints lodged with the helpline turn out to be mere allegations.
The Sahayavani has been working with the Bangalore Police and has its centre at the commissioner’s office.
“We get hundreds of calls and complaints every day, most of which are pertain to dowry harassment. It is very difficult to ascertain whether the complaint is true or false while registering it. It is only through the counselling we provide in the next few days that we realise the true nature of the case,” said Rani Shetty, the co-ordinator of the helpline. Of the 92 dowry harassment cases registered in November 2013, only 20 were found to be true.
Senior police officials say that the reasons for this are varied.
“From what we have understood, a lot of women realise that the laws are stringent with respect to dowry harassment. Many a time, the law gets misused just because the woman wants to get away from her husband or teach him a lesson. This is why, before taking any action or registering a case, we send the couple to the Sahayavani so that the real cause behind the strained relationship is established,” Hemant Nimbalkar, Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime (East), told Deccan Herald.
According to sources in the department, in a majority of the cases, dowry demands are made by educated middle-class families which are well aware of the prevailing laws. “Minor differences” in a relationship trigger such demands and these differences come out in the open during family counselling sessions.
“The idea is to save the marriage to the extent possible. Women bear a lot of harassment and this is, without doubt, the sad state of affairs here,” said Shetty. She added that the police are involved only when the case is ascertained to be that of dowry harassment. The cases of dowry deaths directly go to the police.
In 2013, 49 cases of dowry deaths were registered. This number has been relatively stable in the past few years, with 21 cases each registered in 2010 and 2012 and 53 in 2011.