Marriage in India is a voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. It is a social association where the husband has the responsibility to take care of and maintain his wife and not to neglect his duties. But in relation to this great institution, the problem of the "dowry" still persists. Women are ill-treated, harassed, killed or divorced for the simple reason that they do not get a dowry or do not get a sufficiently large one. To safeguard the interest of women against the cruelty they face within the four walls of their matrimonial home, the Indian Penal Code 1860 was amended in 1983 and section 498A was added. This deals with "Matrimonial Cruelty" to a woman. Matrimonial Cruelty in India is a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence. Notwithstanding that the practice of demanding dowries was made illegal in India over 50 years ago, the (London) Times on 18 January 2012 reported that a study in 2007 concluded that "there is a dowry-related death in India every four hours". Official statistics in India show there were 8,391 dowry-related deaths in 2010, and there may well have been more. Why has leglislation that criminalises these appalling practices failed to stop them?
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