Dowry-Related Violence
Dowry-related violence is a serious problem that affects the lives of women and girls. Dowry includes gifts, money, goods or property given from the bride’s family to the groom or in-laws before, during or anytime after the marriage. Dowry is a response to explicit or implicit demands or expectations of the groom or his family. The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women defines dowry-related violence or harassment as “any act of violence or harassment associated with the giving or receiving of dowry at any time before, during or after the marriage.” From: Good Practices in Legislation on “Harmful Practices” against Women, UN DAW (2009).
The violence and deaths associated with dowry demands can constitute domestic violence. Similar to acts of domestic violence, the acts used in dowry-related offenses include physical, emotional, and economic violence, as well as harassment and stalking as means to exact compliance or to punish the victim. Women often struggle with bringing successful claims of dowry-related violence, as emotional and economic violence are difficult to prove in a court of law. However, dowry-related violence is distinct from domestic violence in that the husband or current partner may not be the only perpetrator of dowry-related violence or death. In-laws, former spouses, or fiancés may also commit acts of dowry-related violence.
While dowry is practiced in many different of the world, dowry-related violence is most prevalent in South Asia, in the nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The most common forms of dowry-related violence are battering, marital rape, acid throwing, wife burning, and other forms of violence. Perpetrators may also use methods of starvation, deprivation of clothing, evictions, and false imprisonment as a method of extortion. They often use violence disguised as suicides or accidents, such as stove or kerosene disasters, to burn or kill women for failing to meet dowry demands. 
Survivors of dowry-related violence often require similar services as survivors of domestic violence. These women will require transport to shelters, emergency services, support programs, and legal assistance.

Drafting Laws on Dowry-Related Violence

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created a section of materials on drafting laws on dowry-related violence for UN Women’s Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at

Throughout this section on Drafting Laws on Dowry-Related Violence, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice. Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/149 and 63/168 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.