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The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that in case of death of a married woman under suspicious circumstances, the husband must explain the circumstances else he can be held responsible for her death. The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that in case of death of a married woman under suspicious circumstances, the husband must explain the circumstances else he can be held responsible for her death.

Violent dowry harassment is an increasingly visible phenomenon in India. An average of one dowry death is reported every 77 minutes according to the National Crime Record Bureau and victim support groups say complaints of dowry harassment are rising, fueled by a rising climate of consumerism.

“Everyone is becoming more and more westernized – they want expensive clothes, they want the consumer objects which are constantly advertised on television. A dowry is seen as an easy way to get them,” said Varsha Jha, an official with the Delhi Commission for Women.

Although the giving and taking of dowry is banned here under legislation that threatens a five-year jail term, activists describe the law as “ornamental” and point out that it is almost never imposed. Dowry negotiations remain an integral part of wedding arrangements, although, to avoid legal complications, the payments are often referred to as wedding gifts.

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