Governmental and Non-governmental Response

Governmental Response


The governmental response to dowry-related violence has largely occurred in the form of legislation either limiting or banning dowry exchange. Both India and Bangladesh have official laws included in the legal code which ban entirely the practice of dowry. The Pakistani legal code includes a statute limiting the scope of acceptable dowry. However, the incidence of dowry-related violence has increased despite such legislation in recent years, highlighting the need for greater government enforcement of laws and broad social change.


India has additionally established over 300 all-women police stations since 1990 solely to pursue dowry violence cases. The main benefit of these stations is that they establish complaint records regardless of whether further action is taken. The existence of a record can serve as a deterrent in dissuading spouses from further dowry harassment. However, the police stations have been criticized for serving as counseling centers rather than administrators of law. Some women have reported feeling betrayed by the emphasis at such centers on reconciliation, and the stations have very low conviction rates. From: Ruiz, Rebecca. “India’s All-Women Police Pursue Dowry Complaints.” 13 September 2006.


Non-Governmental Response


Many NGOs seek to address the gap between law and practice in regards to dowry through media campaigns. Banchte Shekha, a women’s organization in Bangladesh, has done extensive work to address a lack of procedural compliance in village courts. In Pakistan, the Aurat Foundation has likewise conducted media campaigns in hopes of empowering women to engage with the political system.


Women’s organizations also are instrumental in providing legal services and advocacy for women involved in dowry disputes. Banchte Shekha has provided such support as part of their Access to Justice and Human Rights project. The Bangladeshi National Woman Lawyers Association (BNWLA) also provides legal aid to dowry-related violence victims. In one recent case, the BNWLA successfully represented a woman who suffered a miscarriage after being kicked repeatedly in the lower abdomen by her brother-in-law for refusing to provide him with additional dowry.


The Centre for Social Research in India has been instrumental in founding a number of Crisis Intervention Centres to aid female victims of violence. These centers provide a range of tailored services, including facilitation of individual and family discussion, legal and law enforcement advice, medical treatment, assistance in bringing criminal charges, and help in obtaining employment. The Centre for Social Research is located in Delhi, but provides contact information for similar resources in other regions.