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Indian minister resigns after daughter-in-law alleges dowry demand - report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 15 Mar 2013 14:03 GMT
Author: Nita Bhalla
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By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, March 15 (TrustLaw) - A minister in India's eastern state of Odisha has resigned after his daughter-in-law lodged a complaint against him and his family for demanding dowry, an act which is illegal in India, the Hindu newspaper reported on Friday.

Dowries - often in the form of jewellery, expensive clothing, cars and money - are given in India by the bride's family to the groom and his parents, traditionally to ensure the bride will be comfortable and looked after in her new home.

The custom, outlawed more than five decades ago but still widely practised, is often exploited with the groom's family demanding more money after marriage, and leading to mental and sometimes physical harassment.

In some cases the woman commits suicide or she is murdered by her husband and his family for not fulfilling their demands.

"I have submitted my resignation to the Chief Minister on moral grounds," Odisha’s Law and Urban Development Minister Raghunath MoMohanty told reporters when asked about the accusations made by his daughter-in-law Barsha Sony Mohanty.

"(This) allegation against me and my family is totally false and baseless. Let the law take its own course."

According to reports, Mohanty's daughter-in-law alleges the minister and his family had demanded a dowry of 2.5 million rupees ($45,920) and a car. She says they had physically and mentally tortured her ever since she married the minister's son in June last year.

The latest figures from India's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show there were 8,618 cases of dowry-related deaths in 2011 compared to 8,391 the previous year.

The NCRB also says there were almost 90,000 cases of torture and cruelty towards women by their husbands or family in 2010, an increase of five percent from 2009.

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