Statute of Limitations on Dowery-Related Violence and Deaths

Last updated May, 2010

Drafters should reject any timeframe that limits accountability for dowry-related violence or deaths. Demands for dowry, and the accompanying acts of violence, may be made before, during or after the marriage ceremony. Laws should not limit criminal liability to acts that take place within a specific time frame.

CASE STUDY: India’s dowry death law limits its scope to a death that occurs within seven years of her marriage (Article 304B, India Penal Code). Demands for dowry and associated violence may persist and continue well past seven years, however. Laws should not place any time limit on when the death must occur.

Drafters should ensure laws do not impose a statute of limitations for dowry deaths or dowry-related violence. Most jurisdictions do not impose a statute of limitations for crimes resulting in death, and some jurisdictions impose no statute of limitations for sex offenses or crimes of violence. See http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/statlmt.pdf, at 4.