General Principles

Last Updated May, 2010

 Main Strategies for Drafting Legislation on Dowry-related Violence

  •  Drafters should address dowry-related violence through a domestic violence framework. Thus, drafters should provide for a civil order for protection remedy, as well as criminal provisions to hold perpetrators of violence responsible for assault or domestic assault.
  • Drafters should ensure that dowry deaths are also criminalized, either as first-degree murder or as an aggravating factor in homicide sentencing schemes.
  • Drafters should ensure that illegal demands for dowry are addressed by criminal laws on extortion, as well as civil laws on recovering compensation.
  • Drafters should establish regulation over and a registration system for dowry gifts.  
  • Institute property and inheritance reform to ensure women may own, administer and inherit property on a basis equal to men.
  • Ensure that existing laws that provide equality in property and inheritance rights are enforced.
  • Promote public education campaigns to raise awareness among women of their property and inheritance rights.


Core Elements of Legislation on Dowry-related Violence

The following elements should be established as the core elements of any legislation addressing dowry-related violence:

  • Criminalization of dowry-related violence and acts of domestic violence;
  • Criminalization of dowry-related deaths;
  • Cross-reference to accompanying civil remedy laws that protect against domestic violence and provide a fully developed order for protection civil remedy, including an emergency or ex parte order for protection;
  • A criminal offense for violation of the order for protection with a cross-reference to any relevant provisions of the criminal laws, such as punishment for various levels of offenses;
  • Enhanced penalties for multiple violations of the dowry-related violence legislation and the order for protection;
  • Enhanced penalties for other domestic violence-related criminal offenses
  • Prohibition of perpetrators from possessing a firearm, acid, and other dangerous weapons;
  • Cross-reference to corresponding criminal laws that punish extortion and civil tort remedies for extortion;
  • Cross-reference to corresponding laws that prohibit discrimination against women and girls in inheritance;
  • Allowing courts, in protection orders, to order child custody and support to the non-violent parent and allowing courts to enter a protection order as to the child;
  • Provisions on implementation of the law, including training of relevant professionals, monitoring and evaluation of the law, and funding of the implementation of the law;
  • Public education to increase awareness about women’s human rights , dowry-related violence, and property and inheritance laws;
  • Assistance and support for victims of dowry-related violence;
  • Statistics gathering and research on the prevalence of the problem, and;
  • Establishment of an inter-agency task force to ensure a coordinated community response to dowry-related violence and domestic violence.


See: Drafting Domestic Violence Laws, StopVAW, The Advocates for Human Rights.