Surprise dowry death: Indian man jailed for 10 years for wife’s suicide

Kerala District Court has convicted Kiran Kumar under India’s “Dowry Death” Act, which allows people to file charges against people for killing a woman within the first seven years of a marriage featuring dowry gifts and payments.

Dowry, which is illegal but common in India, is a wedding gift given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family. Kumar did not plead guilty.

Kumar had been married to his wife Bismaya Nair for more than a year after she was found dead in the bathroom of her husband’s family home in Kerala last June.

Nair’s family agreed to give Kumar 100 gold, one acre of land and a car as dowry, but he was not happy with the car model and demanded more money, according to court documents.

The verdict said Kumar was physically and verbally abusive to Nair.

The court ruled, “He has lost all the charm of life.” “He was very desperate. Feelings of despair overwhelmed him. Before he died, he was severely abused for dowry.”

In an interview with CNN last year, Nair’s brother Bjith said Kumar restricted his sister’s use of social media, prevented her from calling her parents and even prevented her from flying “because of this dowry”.

“We gave him a good car, but he did not stop claiming a bigger and more expensive car,” he said.

She described her sister as a “bright and brave” person who “loved to dance.”

Decades ago, families in India were at war over the practice of forbidden marriages

Despite being banned under the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the dowry system in India has remained deeply rooted in society and has been linked to violence against women.

In the 1980s, legislators introduced a section in the Indian Penal Code that allowed authorities to charge men or their family members for “dowry deaths”. The charge, which could also be brought in the case of suicide, is punishable by up to seven years of life imprisonment.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, in 2020, the country recorded more than 10,000 dowry complaints and about 7,000 dowry deaths.

Kerala, where Nair died, boasts of the highest literacy rate for both men and women in India, and is generally regarded as a progressive state – but it has shown “severe and persistent dowry inflation since the 1970s and the highest average dowry in recent times.” There are years, “according to a World Bank report released last June.

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