Dowry Prohibition Act remains a non-Starter - The New Indian Express

Dowry Prohibition Act remains a non-Starter

Published: 26th November 2012 10:02 AM

Last Updated: 26th November 2012 10:02 AM

The implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act in the state seems improbable as the Regional Dowry Prohibition Offices(RDPOs) appointed by the Social Welfare Department in 2004, remain largely non-functional.

The duties of these offices, established to look into the complaints about dowry demands and to take preventive action, have been reduced to organising seminars on Anti-Dowry Day, which falls on November 26.

According to an RTI reply, the number of cases reported to the RDPOs is few since its inception in 2004 and the Social Welfare Directorate has not directly came across any violation of the provisions under Dowry Prohibition Act.

The Dowry Prohibition Rules 2004, issued in place of the 1992 Kerala Dowry Prohibition Rules, have been framed incorporating some of the long-standing demands of the National and State Women’s Commissions.

Despite the prevalence of the Act, accepting and giving of dowry continues to be a common practice in all classes of society.

In the past eight years, Kozikode RDPO office received only 58 complaints while Ernakulam office recorded a total of 61. The Thiruvananthapuram RDPO tops the list with 97 complaints, so far.

The nature of the complaints is demand for gold, money, ornaments and land. In most of the cases, these offices forced to withhold further action since the petitioner herself or relatives filed complaints directly to the family courts.

However, according to the data available from police, the number of dowry death cases in the state is on rise as it recorded 23 cases up to September, 2012 whereas only 15 deaths were reported in 2011.

In 2009 and 2010, the number of cases was 21 each whereas it was 22 and 25 in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

When contacted, Social Welfare Director M S Jaya told Express that three RDPOs had received complaints on the violation of dowry prohibition rules and inquired into every petition.

The effective implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act fails because of the inherent contradictions within the Act and also because of the reluctance of the government to incorporate certain key amendments, said K K Preetha, a lawyer with Anweshi.

The Act says that those giving and those accepting dowry can be penalised, then who would go to complain, she asked.

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