The high number of sexual assaults has already earned Delhi the ignominious epithet of the country’s “rape capital”. Recent data, however, shows that the city has another shameful facade: women here are not safe even in their homes.
Delhi recorded the highest number of dowry deaths in 2012 among 53 cities and also topped the list of cases of cruelty by husbands or their relatives.
The city reported 100 dowry deaths in 2012, which is almost equal to the combined number of dowry deaths in four cities: Bengaluru (51), Kolkata (19), Mumbai (11) and Hyderabad (23). Delhi also witnessed 1,870 cases of cruelty by husbands or their relatives in the same period.
According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, Delhi - which has 75.76 lakh women residents - reported 100 dowry deaths.
On the other hand, Mumbai, a city with almost six lakh more women, saw only 11 deaths and 388 cases of harassment.
Other big cities, like Kolkata and Bengaluru, too reported relatively fewer cases in comparison to Delhi. A senior police officer attributed the high numbers to the mixed population of Delhi and the mindset of its society.
“Delhi, being the capital of the country, has been developing at a rapid pace. This rapid urbanisation has also led to certain situations. The development of new colonies doesn’t mean that their residents are well educated. It is extremely difficult to remove the dowry system from our society,” said the police officer who did not want to be named.
“Even educated families in urban societies believe in the practice of demanding dowry at the time of marriage. Sometimes, the pressure leads to the death of the girl. Many a time, women do not come forward to file complaints,” the officer added.
The Delhi Police have a special police unit for women and children and encourage counselling of women suffering from dowry harassment and cruelty in their matrimonial lives.
“Our mediation centre plays a vital role in sorting out marital discords without litigation. Counselling through trained counsellors is also provided to women, who have been victims of violence,” said another officer associated with the unit.