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Kerala CM Launches 24-Hour Helpline To Report Dowry Harassment

This comes days after three dowry deaths were reported from the state in a span of 24 hours.

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched a 24-hour police helpline (9497996992) for victims to report harassment for dowry, domestic abuse, and other gender-related crimes. The chief minister blatantly condemned the violence based on gender and said that it goes against the grain of the Indian Constitution that guarantees the Right to Equality.

Three Dowry Deaths In 24 Hours

The development comes after three deaths were reported in over 24 hours for suspected domestic violence because of dowry demands. Vismaya V Nair, a final year medical student, was found dead in Kollam district at her husband's house. The girl's parents have accused her husband, Kiran Kumar of torturing her over dowry. He was allegedly unhappy with the car that he received as dowry, along with over 1 acre of land and used to physically assault Vismaya repeatedly, asking for more. The victim had sent WhatsApp messages to her cousin before her death showing her injuries. Kiran Kumar was arrested after he surrendered.

On Tuesday, June 22, a 24-year-old woman named Archana was found burnt dead in Thiruvanathapuram's Vizhinjam, in the rented flat she lived in with her husband Suresh.The couple had a love marriage. Three months after the wedding, however, Suresh's father began demanding 3 lakh dowry, to be given to Suresh's brother to buy land. Archana's father said he did not have that much money – and while the matter was not pursued further, it created problems between the two families. Suresh then decided to rent a separate flat for him and Archana. Suresh reportedly bought diesel on the day Archana died, but claimed it was to kill ants. Archana's family, however, is convinced he used it to kill Archana and that she did not die by suicide. Suresh had reportedly tried to flee after Archana was found dead, but the police were able to catch him.

In the third case, a 19-year-old woman named Suchitra was found dead in her husband's house in Vallikunnam on Tuesday, June 22. While police believe this death may have been a suicide, a probe is currently ongoing. Her husband works in Uttarakhand, and Suchitra was in the house with his parents when the incident occurred. The details of this case have not yet been made clear in the public.

Lessons On Gender Equality In Schools

CM Vijayan said that the law prohibited gender-related crimes, and the government would uphold the law. He noted that district police chiefs would directly intervene in the cases received on the helpline and the email aparajitha.pol@kerala.gov.in. He also added that the government would include gender equality in the school curriculum and emphasise equality for women in all spheres of life.

Dowry is prohibited in the state since 1961 under the Kerala Dowry Prohibition Act. As per a report by The New Indian Express, 1, 080 cases of domestic violence by husbands and their families were reported till May 31, 2021, in Kerala. A survey by Statista reported India to be the most unsafe country for women in terms of customary practices and social issues, including domestic violence and sexual assault cases. Though the women and child development department has no data on dowry cases or deaths, Kerala Police have recorded 212 dowry deaths in the last 13 years.

Also Read: Gujarat Prohibition Law: State Can't Dictate What People Can Eat, Drink, Says Plea In High Court

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