22 women killed for dowry in Dhaka every year

Asaduzzaman . Dhaka | Update:

.Farzana Akhter was killed in Kafrul of the capital city when her husband hit her head against the wall after she failed to meet his demand for Tk 3 million in dowry, alleged her family.

They filed a case in this regard, under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act on 26 April this year, against four persons including her husband.

Just four days before Farzana’s murder, another woman, Muna Akhter, was killed for dowry in Hazaribagh of the capital city.

According to Prothom Alo’s investigations, court records in Dhaka reveal that 374 women were killed for dowry in the city over the past 17 years. Every year on average, 22 women are killed for dowry in Dhaka city. In Dhaka Metropolitan area last year, 14 women were killed for the sake of dowry.

Public prosecutor of the Dhaka women and children repression prevention tribunal-3, Mahmuda Akhter, says complaints of torture for dowry are filed with her court almost every single day. Investigation reports of the cases are also being sent to the court. There are several cases under trial at the court, regarding torture for the sake of dowry.

Killing for dowry

A review of several dowry-related deaths in the city indicates that the victim’s husband and his family try to pass off the murder as suicide or death from illness.

The killing of Farzana in Kafrul was such a case. The case records show that Kamrul Hasan Bhuiyan married Farzana 10 years ago when she was just 15. He began pressuring her to arrange for dowry so that she could invest it in business.

Farzana’s uncle Habib Ullah, complainant in the case, said, “We sold land and paid Kamrul to set up a shop. But then he continued to ask for more. On the day of the incident, he hit Farzana’s head on the wall and killed her. Yet they informed us over the phone that she had died of a stroke.”

In the police report submitted to the court on 22 April regarding the Muna Akhter murder case, it was said that Muna was married to Parvez of Hazaribagh around seven or eight months ago. After getting married, he began demanding that she brings Tk 400,000 as dowry from her family. On the day of the incident, Parvez beat Muna with an iron pipe and then strangled her to death.

The Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) submitted a report to the court on 28 September last year, regarding the killing on another woman Farzana Akhter, in Kalyanpur. It was said that Farzana had been strangled with a scarf. The police sent her husband Shafiqul Islam to court on 10 April this year. He allegedly tortured Farzana regularly for Tk 200,000 as dowry.

Four-month pregnant Nasima was killed on 15 June in Khilgaon. Her husband Wahidul Islam was accused of beating her to death for dowry.

Lawyer at Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s One-Stop Crisis Centre (OCC), Fahmida Akhter, said that women came to the hospital for treatment after being tortured for dowry. Some of them had been burned, some had been beaten till their bones were broken.

Only 3 per cent punished

According to records of Dhaka’s women and children repression prevention tribunal, 27 women in the city had been tortured and killed for the sake of dowry in 2016. In 2015 this number was 25, in 2013 it was 22, in 2013 the number was 30, in 2012 it was 25, in 2011 it was 26 and in 2010 it stood at 15. But the rate of punishment is disproportionately low compared to the number of such dowry deaths. According to the women and children repression prevention tribunal records, punishment was given in only 3 per cent of the dowry killing cases.

Former public prosecutor of Dhaka’s women and children repression prevention tribunal, Faruk Ahmad, said that the defendants go all out to pass these killings off as suicide.

Former executive director of Bangladesh Women Lawyers Association, Salma Ali, said the dowry cases must be investigated thoroughly and disposed of speedily. The tribunals must have efficient public prosecutors. She said the law must be applied properly to end dowry. The state must stand by the oppressed women. The oppressors must be given exemplary punishment.

This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir

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