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This practice is often a direct consequence of the Vedic decrees enforcing dowry, and involves the extortion of staggering quantities of wealth by the bridegroom's family from that of the bride. When the bride's family cannot pay up to the amount demanded by the in-laws, the bride is often burned alive as a result. Often the in-laws make demands in excess of those made at the time of marriage. When the deadline specified runs out, the bride is burned in the most gruesome fashion. Often, the bride is severely mutilated by having her genitals cut off in the most brutal manner; sometimes the bride is boiled alive and at other times large objects are thrust into the girl's private parts in order to induce internal bleeding.
The extent to which such barbaric Vedic and Brahmanic customs have survived is astonishing. At least 5000 women die each year for not bringing in enough dowry. At least a dozen women die each day in `kitchen fires', which are often passed off as accidents, because their in-laws are not satisfied with their dowries. Only a few of the murderers are brought to justice [ Kit ].
The extent of bride-burning is astonishing. " Government figures show that at least 7300 women were killed by their in-laws in the first nine months of 1995 for bringing inadequate dowries." [ 2 Men ] This custom of dowry has divine sanction, since the Ramayana explicitly mentions that Sita brought a huge dowry for Rama. Worse still is the custom of consuming the flesh of the burnt brides accoring to the Vedic `purushamedha'. After the helpless brides are burnt alive, their bodies are cooked as if they were some animal and their flesh consumed by the pious Hindu family of the bridegroom. In addition to destroying evidence of any crime, the pious Hindus also `gain merit' by performing the `holy' Vedic purushamedha (human sacrifice). This custom, more than any other, reveals the beastly nature of the Hindu male.
Hinduism has now experienced a terrible brutality on its women: bride
burning and dowry deaths have now spread in Indian Hindu populations
like the plague. This is a disgrace to our country and religion and we
must act now to stop this tragedy.
In spite of the fact that wife battering is a worldwide phenomenon
(and the western world is no exception), in India and some adjoining
countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, brides are being killed
upon demands of dowry. The practice has rapidly increased over the
past ten years and although it has been concentrated in the Hindu
heartland of north India (Delhi, Hariyana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan), it is spreading at an alarming rate
throughout the subcontinent. Traditionally dowry-free Islamic
countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have also witnessed quite a
few cases of this extreme form of violence against women.
The just-concluded first international conference on bride burning and
dowry deaths held at Harvard University from September 30 through October 2 has
observed the following facts
The problem of bride-burning stems from the ancient custom of giving a dowry. In India the dowry is given to the groom's family to ensure the bride gets a good husband. The amount given as a dowry has increased over the centuries, Witzel said, to the point where today the bride's family often goes into debt, sometimes for generations, in order to put together the dowry.
In some cases, the bride can become something of a hostage as the groom's family demands more and more, sometimes exceeding the original agreed-upon dowry. If more money isn't forthcoming, the bride can suffer an "accident" in the kitchen, where kerosene used for cooking can be spilled on her and lit, Witzel said.
"The groom's family constantly asks for more, or the bride's family can't keep up with payments [of the original dowry]. If the pressure doesn't work, there's an 'accident' in the kitchen," Witzel said.
I. What is Sati?
Hindu custom in India in which the widow was burnt to death on her husband?s pyre.
Can be a voluntary choice or force upon a woman by her in-laws.
II. Reasons for Sati
A widow's status was looked upon as an unwanted burden that prevented her from participating in the household work. Her touch, her voice, her very appearance was considered unholy, impure and something that was to be shunned and abhorred.
A woman was considered pure if she committed Sati.
Some interesting links to keep you busy. Wife burning is mainly Hindu, and other faiths such as Sikhism have denouced this brutal tradition.