Delhi has recorded the highest number of dowry deaths among cities in the country with a 25% increase in cases in 2013. Often called the ‘rape capital’ of India, the city saw 125 cases of dowry deaths in 2013 — the highest among 53 cities – up from 100 in 2012, according to the latest report by the National Crime Records Bureau.
The Capital also witnessed 2,879 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives. In comparison, Mumbai – which has a female population of 852,000 compared to Delhi’s 757,600 – saw only 21 cases of dowry death and 602 cases of cruelty and harassment. In total, 793 cases of dowry death were reported from 53 Indian cities in 2013.
Other big cities like Kolkata and Bengaluru also fare much better than Delhi, with 15 and 52 cases of dowry deaths respectively. Chennai had the lowest number of deaths among major cities with only 12 cases.
The revelation comes two days after the Supreme Court raised concern over the misuse of the anti-dowry law, prohibiting automatic arrest under the law. On Wednesday, the SC had said the ‘dubious’ law was being used as ‘weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives’.
Attributing the high number of dowry deaths in Delhi to social mindsets, a senior police officer said, “The Capital’s rapid urbanization has led to expansion of new colonies, where many aren’t well-educated. Even educated families believe in demanding dowry and sometimes this pressure leads to death of the girl. Many times, women don’t come forward to file complaint.”
Delhi Police has a special police unit for women and children, and encourage counseling of women suffering from dowry harassment and cruelty in matrimonial lives.
Social activists reacted angrily to the Wednesday SC verdict. “This is a very unfortunate observation by the SC. We are losing too many young girls and the cases are only increasing. The verdict will further increase the insensitivity of police. I don’t think the order was based on facts and now victims will be victimised all the more,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.