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Kerala Dowry Deaths: Where Are We Lacking in Protecting Women?

Are we being able to provide the kind of space that is needed for women to escape abuse in their marriages?

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Kerala may pride itself for being the state with the highest sex ratio, but a series of back-to-back dowry-related deaths being reported from various parts of the state goes to show that India has a long long way to go to be able to make the country safe for women, both inside and outside their homes.

On 21 June, Vismaya, a 24-year-old woman from Kerala was found dead at her husband’s residence in Kottayam district. Just two days before she was found hanging in the bathroom, she had messaged her cousin saying that her husband had brutally beaten her up.

And in the span of 24 hours there were two more similar reports. On 22 June, 24-year-old Archana was found dead with burn injuries at Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram, in the rented apartment that she lived in with her husband. They reportedly had a love marriage but just a few months into their marriage, her husband’s father had asked for Rs 3 lakh as dowry.

Suchitra, 19, was also found dead at her husband’s residence the same day in Vallikunnam. While police believe she may have killed herself, they're still investigating the case.

More than outrage, these successive reports of dowry-related deaths raise a serious concern, that despite laws being put in place, as a society where are we lacking in protecting women?

Are we being able to provide the kind of space that is needed for women to escape abuse in their marriages? Do our efforts in empowering women lack the systemic overhaul of the societal perception that women occupy a submissive position in a marriage?

In this episode, we spoke to Sunita Menon, Director of Breakthrough – an organisation that builds awareness on domestic violence and Neha Singhal, a senior resident fellow at Vidhi Central for Legal Policy, an independent think-tank that does legal research. Tune in!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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