Dowry Law (2003) Movie Script

A young couple setting off
on the Indian dream,
a successful, prosperous life
[people cheering]
It's the wedding season
in India,
thousands of young people
are getting married.
This lavish marriage
in a five-star hotel
has cost thousands of pounds.
Weddings in today's India
are increasingly
about conspicuous consumption,
spend it, flaunt it.
Across town, a Muslim ceremony
with the dowry out on show.
Gifts and cash
from the bride's father.
Muslims never used to give
[man 1]
We have organized a motorbike,
it's a latest brand
of the LML Freedom that is.
We bought a cupboard
and a LG fridge,
plus you can say
21-inch a flat-front TV
with a Whirlpool
washing machine, suitcases,
bangles out here.
And the clothing
all the embroidered ones
for the boys as well girls
and for the relatives as well.
And a good bed over here
with the jewelleries,
and good gifts and everything,
whatever is possible.
The moment his daughter
was born,
the bride's father
started saving for this day.
No expense has been spared,
no detail overlooked.
The dowry will have
set his family back
a small fortune.
And for the groom's family,
it's bonanza time,
gifts all around.
The market's just driving dowry,
You know, it's like a new engine
to this whole thing of dowry.
And it's being driven
by the market,
it's being driven
by consumerism,
it's being driven by the feeling
that, "Okay, we want this
and this is an easy way
to get it."
[people chanting
in foreign language]
Dowry demands for money,
ultimatums and threats
can keep going
long after the wedding is over,
with constant pressure
on young brides
and their families.
[people chanting
in foreign language]
In Delhi, a special police unit
has been set up
to help young married women
who feel harassed.
[people muttering]
This is the way
women are treated?
It's busier than ever.
[speaking in foreign language]
Day after day,
brides come with their parents
complaining about demands,
about beatings
and mental torture.
In male-dominated
Indian society,
women here
seem to be fighting back.
Sir, go to hell!
Get out of here!
Behave yourself.
But they're up
against generations
of discrimination.
The dowry was outlawed
40 years ago,
but with the booming economy
it's now back with a vengeance.
Behind almost every case
are rows about dowry.
The officer in charge
is superintendent Vimla Mehra.
[speaking in Hindi]
One of the main problems is,
of course, dowry.
And I don't know why it happens,
because it seems that
more and more women come to us
that, "My husband is asking
for a scooter or a motor vehicle
or some jewellery or some money
so that he could start
his business."
Perhaps, it's one of
the easiest way to get money.
[speaking in Hindi]
A local journalist,
Smita Chaudhary,
has been watching dowry in India
surging back.
Another case has just come in.
This woman from Rajasthan
has brought her family
to the police station.
She claims one of her daughters
was killed
by her son-in-law's family.
Anju was burned to death
in the kitchen.
Her mother wants
the dowry back.
Three children?
Yes, she had three more sons
and the eldest of them
has gone mad
after that incident.
Her other daughter is married
into the same family
and the mother claims
she's now being harassed
for dowry as well.
She says I want justice
and I want all the money
which I've given for dowry.
How much money did she give?
[speaking in Hindi]
She gave Rs. 250,000 worth
of stuff to two sisters.
That's a huge sum
for this family, over 3,000.
It's dowry again, and again,
and again.
What I'm not sure about is why
she brought this case up now,
her daughter died two years ago.
Actually, she's--
Now she feels that
there's no hope for this girl,
because they're asking
for the dowry once again.
So there's no hope
to settle this child.
And she'd have to pay out
more money
if she has to send her back.
She's been asked for
yet more dowry
on top of what
she's already paid?
Because they're saying
that has been consumed
with the first daughter's
and so she should pay again.
The in-laws' family
have all turned up
and now the two husbands,
who are brothers,
decide to wade
into the argument.
[speaking in Hindi]
One says they were never
legally married,
because the girls
were too young.
[speaking in Hindi]
The row is all about money.
Everyone seems far more worried
about the cash
than the dead girl.
[speaking in Hindi]
In the middle of the arguing
and the abuse,
a police officer
is trying to work out
who is telling the truth.
[speaking in Hindi]
Everyone has
a different point of view
and anyone within shouting range
gets an earful.
[speaking in Hindi]
And they've also got
is one of the brothers
claiming to have had
no relationship whatsoever
with this woman.
Where the truth lies,
I don't know yet.
[arguing in Hindi]
They were married as children.
So the marriage is not valid...
And that's a--
that's a Rajasthani custom?
But that's not--
that's not valid legally.
So there's one guy who saying,
"There is no marriage,
so what are we talking about?"
So you see we have a law,
and we have a caste system,
and we have a Panchayat,
and we have families.
And you have dowry
and it all makes a mess.
And everyone...
I mean you know, it is funny,
but at the same time
it's you know--
a woman has died in this.
And they're saying
she has burnt herself
while boiling milk.
Which is possible, but you know,
only the women are boiling milk
and then they are
burning themselves off like--
And always the young ones.
The mothers-in-law
do not boiling milk and dying.
Tihar Jail in Delhi
is the largest prison in Asia.
It's visiting day,
but these women
and their children
are on the wrong side
of the bars.
All are in prison
for dowry crime,
in many cases jailed for setting
their daughters-in-law on fire.
Anjel is the resident
social worker in Tihar.
This block is exclusively
for mothers-in-law,
more than a hundred of them.
The numbers are growing
all the time.
[muttering in distance]
[speaking in Hindi]
Dowry-related death.
That's right.
So she's been convicted
of killing--
Her daughter-in-law, yeah.
What's she been accused of?
[speaking in Hindi]
The daughter-in-law died.
How did-- how did she die?
[speaking in Hindi]
The daughter-in-la
gave the dying declaration
that the in-laws
held her hands, daughter--
sister-in-law put fire to her
and the husband poured kerosene
over her.
But the husband is out,
the rest of the family
is inside the jail.
Dowry crime
was spiraling out of control.
And the government passed laws,
so that anyone
even remotely connected
to the death of a wife
can be thrown in jail.
If a bride dies
in the first seven years
of marriage,
her family can file a charge
alleging dowry crime.
All the in-laws
can be imprisoned.
I came across mothers, sisters,
sons, daughters, aunts,
even nieces and nephews,
all behind bars in Tihar.
This is--
[speaking in Hindi]
Some are growing up in jail
simply because
their families are here.
Who's this?
This is the son
of one of the women
who's in the-- who's in the--
this cell?
Her sister-in-law died,
so this is one
of the sisters-in-law, her son.
Raja, Raja, Raja.
[woman speaking in Hindi]
This old woman and her daughter
have done two years
of a 20-year sentence
for murder.
The son wasn't charged.
The women claim
they weren't there
when the daughter-in-law died.
The daughter-in-law
bolted the door from inside
and put herself on fire.
How is she responsible
for her daughter-in-law's death?
the boy was very jealous
and they were fighting
very badly.
And the sister-in-law feels that
this was a tension
between husband and wife
and they got involved in it.
She feels very lonely
and abandoned also,
because the son
doesn't come to meet her either.
He has gotten married again,
he has family.
And then he doesn't come here
any longer?
[speaking in Hindi]
She says that,
if I had done something
I would've felt satisfied,
"Okay, I did it
that's why I'm here."
But-- yeah.
But she feels
she didn't do anything.
And now
she's been abandoned here.
The so-called accident
is always the same.
It's always in the kitchen
and nobody's ever at home.
She says that, yes,
I've been committed unfairly
that my daughter-in-law herself
said that while she was cooking,
her nightgown caught fire.
She gave that
a dying declaration.
Everybody here says,
"It wasn't me,
I'm not-- I'm not guilty."
And I-- I'm-- I'm puzzled
by what they're doing here then.
The conviction is if the dowry--
if the suicide or the death
has been abetted--
Right, that's enough.
That is also a reason
for conviction.
Yeah, right, right.
And that reason
can be either present
very obviously
like in the actual burning
or a mental state of mind
or the pressures that are there
on the daughter-in-law.
So if you're involved
in the harassment,
in the view of the court,
you're part of the crime.
What they say is that,
"Look, our mother-in-laws
used to taunt us,
so we were made to work
very hard or whatever.
Or we did not have any freedom
of doing anything on our own.
We were like kind of answerable
to everybody in the family."
It's no surprise that few say
they're guilty.
But some are behind bars
carrying the can
for the dowry crime
committed by their sons.
Because in Indian society,
men are simply more important.
They can remarry,
find a new wife,
and get the new dowry
that goes with her.
To parents' minds,
it's ingrained in our system
that boys mean that-- it'll--
Boys mean cash, basically.
Uhuh, yeah.
I mean they do--
they do at marriage time,
Boys mean cash.
Kajal and Anand,
the perfect union.
Two young doctors
from good families,
an arranged marriage
and a financial deal.
It looked like
a match made in heaven.
Beautiful, upwardly mobile,
Kajal Sharma
and Anand Singh
from a higher caste family
in need of cash.
So this is um-
This is Kajal's room.
There are gifts to be given
throughout the year
at every festival
and then when the girl
has a child and-
Uh, so you know, your parents
prepare in advance
for all these things.
So this-
she's already bought all this?
This was for the future, yes,
for the entire year.
[speaking in Hindi]
Kajal Sharma's parents had spent
a fortune on her education.
Pretty and clever,
they now wanted
an upper-class husband for her.
And they knew
the right young man
would cost them
thousands of pounds.
[woman speaking in Hindi]
They're her books
and that's a teddy
she gifted to her mother.
That-- that-- that teddy bear?
[speaking in Hindi]
She used called her
mother "teddy bear" only.
Did she?
Yeah, yeah.
[speaks in Hindi]
The wedding costs and the dowry
were mounting by the day.
And Kajal's father
even had to turn to her brothers
for money.
So this was a grand wedding?
It was a grand wedding.
What are these, I mean--
These are
gold and diamond ornaments.
And these were what,
presents from your family?
Yes, they were presents
from my family and the relatives
to the girl for her marriage.
In the marriage video,
Kajal is on show,
packaged up
in her wedding finery.
This wasn't a love marriage?
No, no.
But why, in that case?
Why-- why push your daughter
into a marriage
that wasn't a love marriage?
[speaks in Hindi]
They were after us
for the marriage
and they were so persuasive
that it seemed like
they really wanted my daughter
and that was good enough reason
to have her married
in that house.
And when somebody's asking
for a girl,
then you presume that
they would also treat her well.
The money thing was
really important to them,
It was very--
was it?
it everything.
Like the father, Mr BB--
Dr BB Singh,
he had called my father once
before the marriage
to his house in the morning
to discuss that,
"What is your budget?"
That was the word he had used,
Budget is a financial word.
Then at that time
my father gave him
a good scolding that,
"If you want money from us,
we will not marry our daughter."
Then he-- at that time he said,
"Oh, don't be angry.
We will not talk like this."
The Sharmas drew the line
at buying a 7,000 Toyota car
for the Singhs.
But they did eventually settle
on a final dowry figure.
I'm not very experienced
on what goes on,
but this was obviously a wedding
where lot of effort,
a lot of expense was put in.
I mean some of these clothes
are incredibly ornate.
And all these decorations
and the jewellery
that the bride's wearing.
There's a picture somewhere.
There we are.
With her mother.
Mr Sharma is an engineer.
Not badly paid,
certainly not rich.
He'd been saving
for Kajal's wedding
since her birth,
even so he said that
the dowry was destroying him.
And days before the marriage,
new demands for cash.
This I got in cash from bank.
Out of this 55,000,
50,000 I gave to him in cash.
Then this money, 75,000,
this I paid him in cheque.
I mean, you--
you were breaking the law
doing that, weren't you?
Because the law in this country
is that you should not give
more than Rs. 5,000 of gifts.
Nobody follows that law.
So that-- that law is ignored?
Otherwise, nobody will be able
to marry his daughter.
Because the rules of the society
are different
and the rules on paper,
they are different.
You've had to borrow to do this,
how many years will it take you
to uh, to pay off your debts?
This will go
all through my life.
Rest of your life?
The wedding, the dowry,
the gifts,
it added up, the Sharmas say,
about 15,000.
And the Singhs
were still going on
about the car,
the Toyota Qualis.
But this car that was what,
part of the dowry?
[man 2]
Toyota Qualis.
They had asked it
before the marriage,
but there we had refused.
But after, right the marriage,
they started behaving
in just the opposite way.
They started saying,
"No, you have to give car.
How will my son travel
without a car?"
The Sharmas say they rejected
the demand again.
Kajal and Anand went to Calcutta
and she completed her studies.
She complained that
Anand was stopping her
from revising for her exams.
She passed them
and they returned to Delhi
and moved
into the Singh family home.
Kajal was still being pressed
for more dowry.
[man 3]
She was crying the day
she called me up
and she was telling that
Anand was creating problems,
and he telling that
"You have to bring the car.
You have to pressurize
your parents."
A day later, the phone rang,
something was seriously wrong.
It was in the evening
of 9th June when her husband,
he called me
and told me to reach their house
as early as possible.
I asked him,
"What is the matter?"
Then he told me
on the telephone.
He told you on the phone?
And he said it
in a very casual sort of--
What did he--
What did he say?
He just said...
[speaks in Hindi]
"We had gone--
I had gone out
and she had not taken
her dinner, she said,
'I don't want to eat.'
So I went out
and when I came back,
I found her hanging."
He just said it
as a matter of fact.
Kajal was dead
hanged in her bedroom.
On the news her father-in-law
was filmed saying,
she'd tied a scarf
round her neck
and then hanged herself
from a door handle.
Kajal's brother, a doctor, said
it couldn't have been suicide.
You must realize that
it was my brother
who first reached there.
He reached there at about 7:00.
Death has taken place
around 3:00, 3:00 or something.
No police was--
had been called,
not even a medical professional
had been called.
Because you have to see
whether the person
is actually dead or not.
He may be in a state of coma
or something.
My brother only called
the police.
They were not willing
to call the police,
they were just wanting
to take the body and cremate it,
so that all the evidence
was gone.
They had already cut open
the ligatures
and removed the body.
Whatever they say that
she was hanging from there
and she was hanging from there,
that is up to them.
We haven't seen anything.
In spite of getting no help
from the police,
who they think had been bribed,
Kajal's family filed a case
alleging dowry crime.
Anand and his parents
were arrested at their home
and taken away to Tihar Jail.
The investigating judge
appeared to share
the Sharma's suspicions.
So-- so this,
what's it saying here?
Uh, this is not a case
of suicide simply cited,
but has categorical reference
to her harassment
on account of dowry.
So what we've got here is--
is one judge um,
rejecting application
from Dr. Singh
and uh, the rest of the family
for bail.
And then a few days later, uh,
they were released
on a technicality.
[speaking in Hindi]
[Smita interpreting]
"I want justice.
I've made a mistake,
but I'll never make
a mistake again.
I didn't know them,
I didn't recognize them
and I want justice now.
And they feared
justice was slipping away,
because the Singhs
were now out of prison.
We've been trying for days
to talk to the Singhs,
every attempt
to get in touch with them.
We've been told
it's out of the question.
So I've come to their house
to see if they're in.
The Singh family
had spent three months
in Tihar Jail.
Dr BB Singh, a scientist,
had been suspended from his job.
His son, Anand,
had trained abroad as a doctor,
but the qualification
was not accepted in India
and he'd been unable to find
any work.
[dogs barking]
[shouting in Hindi]
Dr. BB Singh,
I'm Adam Mynott from the BBC.
Please just wait.
We've come to talk to you
...About the issue...
We will give you
all the answers.
Well, we-- we--What do you want?
we just wanted
to discuss some of the issues.
You can't take yourself--
[speaking in Hindi]
We just wanted to discuss
some of the issue--
Thank you, thank you very much.
The Singhs gave me
their version of events
very different from the Sharmas.
No torture, no harassment,
no dowry demands.
She put a-- a scarf,
you know the girls,
they wear a salwar
and this thing
and then put it...
Dr. Singh showed us
how he says
Kajal killed herself.
...with the neck.
She might have sat on this mura
and pushed it back.
When we discovered her body,
her body was not on the floor,
you know, it just
a little above the floor.
So she must have got suffocated,
you know, out of...
Even this was height.
Doctor came
with the crime branch,
they brought the--
all the three doctors.
I mean I'm not
a forensic scientist,
but that-- that means that
there was that--
that length of--
I mean it seemed--
it just seems very,
very odd to me.
It seems very strange.
I mean why not hang yourself
if you want to commit suicide--
You see I don't know this.
Why not hang yourself
from the ceiling fan?
Or from a bracket on a wall?
Why do it in a way which--
No, but that I cannot answer.
So only she can answer.
She was the one
to choose this way,
only she can answer
why did she did this way.
I am a doctor,
she was a doctor.
Only she can tell.
How can he or how can I say
why the hell
did she chose this way to die?
I as a doctor can say, yes,
this is sufficient height
for a person to die.
This, any doctor can say.
This is very surprising
her brother herself
is a doctor and--
You-- you-- you--
You were her husband.
Yeah, I am-- I am her husband.
Did it not surprise you
that your wife could get
to this state without you--
without you being aware of it,
without you being aware
of the fact
that she wanted
to commit suicide?
Listen, this is very surprising
for everyone.
This is a surprise
for their family,
this is a surprise
for my family, for me.
Yeah, she used to get
some depression sometimes
after the exams.
Most of the times,
it was only when her brother
used to call her up.
He like, "You've got to study,
you've got to study."
She used to say bhaiya ,
like brother is saying
I'll fail.
I'd say, "Everything
is gonna be alright."
I've never prayed to God
for my exams as far as I--
like as much I have prayed
for her.
And I'm like,
I have full faith in God
and I was very sure
she will pass.
In your opinion
was worry about exams
that she had enough
for her to commit suicide?
Except for exam,
I don't find a single reason
I was the most intimate
and close person to her.
I haven't found
a single more reason that...
Her-- her--
her family claims
she was being tortured, harassed
by your family.
For what?
I don't know,
that's what they said.
And what about
those constant demands
for a brand new Qualis car?
As far as Qualis is concerned,
we can buy a Qualis
the day we want to.
What is the point of asking?
And is life of a doctor
worth just a Qualis jeep,
whatever it is?
I don't think so.
Well-- I mean they say that,
you know that Mr. Sharma says
he's had to borrow
hundreds of thousands of rupees
which he'll be paying--
He'll be paying off
for the rest of his life.
This is his side of story,
absolutely his side of story.
He's lying then?
Of course, he is!
All this case--
the case from day one,
this is all based on lies.
She was my wife.
I was supposed to live my life,
she was my--
supposed to be my partner
for my whole-- my life.
What will I get by killing her
or if she dies?
Is this a bigger loss for me
or for them?
For whom?
I asked the media,
I asked these people,
the police, the justice,
For whom this loss is?
What will I get by her death?
You're someone wrote a card
to your wife saying,
"I hate you
for your shrewdness."
Is that-- is that the sort of-
Relations between...
And there are--
There are 20 lines
above that which are loving,
is it not,
if you've seen that card?
Well, there are printed ones,
Yeah, printed ones.
If I had not been having love,
why would I write that?
Well, you didn't write it,
it was written--
Why would I send it?
They were printed on the card.
I could've sent other cards.
So your-- your--
And every--
So your relations with Kajal
In every-- every husband and--
I am, yes.
You're married?
Don't you have small conflicts
with your wife?
Well, I'm not answering
these questions, but then--
Same with me.
Like my wife,
we used to have small problems,
whatever, what is it.
She used to get out of head
for exams.
I said, "Don't worry for exams,
it's a part of life.
They come, they go."
So are you not at all
puzzled then
about why your wife--
your wife committed suicide.
Absolutely not.
I'm just broken,
my family's broken, that is all.
There's no puzzle.
I'm very sad that-- that yes,
at that fateful moment
why was I not at home?
Had I been maybe at home,
I would have again sit with her,
I would've consoled her,
the things would've been okay.
The Singhs say
Kajal had been unstable.
They accused her family
of neglecting her
and deny any dowry extortion.
Anand claims
he'd have done anything
to save her,
but this was her destiny.
The Sharmas say
the suicide claims
are ridiculous.
The thing they're
particularly worried about,
one of the things
is the handwriting
on the suicide note.
It says, "I'm doing this,
because of the tension
of my exams.
I'm responsible for this,
no one is to be held responsible
for my death.
I've been treated very kindly
by my husband and in-laws."
Now they say there is no way
that their daughter
would've written that
and also there's no way
this is her handwriting.
The Sharmas are worried
that the police
have now either lost interest
or have been bribed
to drop the case.
They don't know their way
around the legal system.
[speaks in Hindi]
So they turned to Brinda Karat,
a leading campaigner
against dowry.
Brinda contacts the lawyers,
saying the case
needs a proper investigation.
It's a dowry death.
She's worried the authorities
are trying to sweep it
under the carpet.
Life imprisonment.
Brinda has seen it all before
and she doesn't buy
the suicide theory either.
It's very, very unlikely
that this girl has written
a suicide note.
And anyway, just looking
at the handwriting,
it just doesn't match.
Even the layperson can make out.
It just does not match.
And secondly,
the way that the suicide note
is framed,
I mean three months, two months
after the examination,
she's talking about tension
in the examination,
it definitely doesn't make
any sense.
And thirdly, from the aspect
of the demands for dowry,
it's extraordinary.
I mean we have seen
so many cases,
I mean we deal with
I don't know how many cases.
But a case
where they are giving it
in writing
before the engagement ceremony,
that this is what we expect you
to bring,
I mean it's just so blatant.
And it just shows
how the social sanction
that this practice of dowry has.
They thought that you know,
they're probably going to buy
their daughter's happiness,
you know.
Dowry really is a practice
of the educated
and the richer sections.
I mean there's just no getting--
It's not related to illiteracy.
It's not related
to being uneducated.
It's very much related
to the devaluation of women
starting from the upper layers
of society.
Brinda knows the police
are weighed down
by corruption and bureaucracy.
First stop,
Inspector Harish Joshi's office.
One of the big issue
is to get the dowry back.
They have a half-hour meeting
which we're not allowed to film.
When they come out,
not much
seems to have been achieved.
How have you been able
to move things on today, then?
Move things,
which things?
With this investigation.
Well, investigation means we--
we carry on the investigation.
What-- what have you said
to the Sharmas today?
what have you said to them?
How have you explained to them
their case is going?
No, I didn't talk to them,
I didn't talk to them.
But you've just had a meeting,
you had a meeting with them.
What did you say to them
at the meeting?
Just now.
No, we didn't--
We discussed the case,
that's all.
And when--
Where is the case now?
Where does it stand?
What is the next move?
It's in the court,
it's in the court.
And the issue
of-- of dowry retrieval?
That is being examined.
The Sharmas now fear
they're dealing with police
who are corrupt
and disinterested.
[man speaking in Hindi on
The women's police cell
leading the anti-dowry campaign
has only one van in Delhi.
It answers calls all over a city
of 14 million people.
[car honks]
It's really impossible to tell
how many dowry deaths
there are each year.
The official figure
is somewhere over 6,500.
Unofficially, you know,
it could be as high as some say
Anyway, the unit's
just been called out
to another case.
All we know at the moment
is it involves a woman
being burnt.
Uh, we should find out more
when we arrive in a few minutes.
[man speaking in Hindi]
Yeah, dead body is here,
in the vehicle.
[woman muttering]
The women's cell relies
on being tipped off
by the local police,
who've got to
the scene of the crime first.
They've already made
their minds up, what went on.
So, so what--
what happened in this case?
Burnt herself.
Apparently, the neighbors
heard no argument
between the couple.
And the woman's parents
aren't here
to claim her death
was anything other than suicide.
She is saying,
"You eat food" to her husband,
but her husband refused,
because he was ill.
Then after, when he went out
and he--
She committed suicide.
So it sounds an odd reason
to commit suicide,
because your husband
refuses to eat food.
This is the husband here?
Yeah, yeah.
[woman 1]
Yeah, some cases are like this.
It's often claimed
the police are too quick
to dismiss a case,
because of ineptitude
or corruption.
[speaking in Hindi]
Are you getting the impression
that the police have--
have accepted this reason
almost without question?
I think the police
by and large accepts anything
which told to them,
so they don't have to do
much digging
and any investigation in depth.
They first accept
whatever is said
and then if somebody
makes a noise
about its unacceptability,
then they dig it up.
Then they start digging, right.
The paperwork done,
the woman's body is driven off
to the nearby mortuary.
Unless a member
of this dead woman's family
now comes and reports
this as a dowry crime,
this death is almost certainly
just gonna become
another meaningless statistic.
Who knows what actually happened
to this woman?
An accident, murder?
I have no idea.
And the police are apparently
not very interested
in finding out.
The body will be cremated
later today.
And the husband will go back
to his home.
Case closed.
Women are killed in India
in horrifying numbers,
because the chance of anyone
being prosecuted is remote.
And the men can go off
and marry again
and get another dowry.
In hospitals in Delhi,
there are case after case
of burned women,
while dowry demands
are getting bigger and bigger.
Could you just,
literally just tell us
what happened?
[speaking in Hindi]
Anoki is desperately ill.
She has 80% burns to her body.
Her sister-in-law
caught her hands from the back
and uh, the mother-in-law
poured kerosene over her
and then set her on fire.
Anoki is the classic
dowry victim.
Not pretty enough,
her dowry wasn't big enough,
and then on top of everything,
she gave birth to a girl.
She went--
She was sent home forcibly
she says for--
three years back.
And then her parents
went to her in-laws place
to say that
you should take her back.
So they wouldn't do that.
So I asked her,
"Why did they not
take you back?"
She says, "They just said that
they didn't like me."
So basically, you know,
her husband's family
didn't like her, so they--
they burnt her, set her on fire.
[Smita speaking in Hindi]
Anoki's father has been sitting
at her bedside for four months.
He says, "What's the point
of getting the police involved?
Nothing would happen,
it would just cause more trouble
for my family."
And they're not prepared
to press charges now,
because they're frightened
of what might happen?
I mean if they can burn her,
then they can do anything.
[chattering in background]
And do you get many cases
like this?
But we have got plenty of cases,
Of-- of women burned
in similar circumstances?
Most of the-- most of the cases
You do--
Burned by a stove only.
I mean, you know this--
this woman claims
she was burned by her in-laws.
No, she is not saying that.
Well, she said her mother-in-law
She's not saying that,
she's saying--
Well, that's what
she's just said to us.
The statement--
the statement she has given
is not that.
The police statement is that
she's-- it's an accident.
It's an accident, yes.
What she said,[Smita]
what she said to No, but she's--
That what she says
to the police,
but what she's saying to us
is that she was--
she was burned by her in-laws.
I've talked to her,
I've talked to her father also.
They are both saying
the same thing,
it's an accident.
Does it puzzle you,
as a burns doctor,
that there are loads and loads
of these accidents
involving cooking?
Doesn't happen anywhere else
in the world in the same way.
Yeah, it's not happening
in anywhere in the world,
but the main thing is that
the stove that they're using,
I know.
that's a peculiar stove.
I mean you're doing
wonderful things
to look after her,
but it just seems that you know,
there are so many cases
like this-- this woman.
And why do you think
she is giving us
a different version events?
I don't know.
Is she frightened?
I don't know that.
I mean you realize when you come
and see
what is a really sickening case
like this,
that they're the odds against
this sort of thing
ever being sorted out.
It's totally stacked against...
And you've got a girl here
who um, said she was burned
by her family.
She and her father
don't want to go to the police.
There seems to be a reluctance
by the system to investigate it
and you're left realizing
the whole thing is hopeless.
[speaking in Hindi]
Her father said
he hoped she'd recover.
But Anoki died a week later.
Afterwards, off-camera,
the doctor admitted
that most of the burns cases
were dowry crimes.
And Anoki's case remains
as listed, a kitchen accident.
[siren wailing]
The women's police cell
and its solitary van
are out on call again.
But they spend
much of their time
dealing with trivial cases.
There's been a report
that a woman has tried
to commit suicide,
because of dowry demands
by her husband.
But when we arrive
an hour later,
that story's being disputed.
The parents say
their daughter-in-law
has been using the dowry law
to blackmail them.
The police have little doubt
that the in-laws
were telling the truth.
They go to the hospital
where the woman
has admitted herself.
And they find that she'd taken
only two sleeping pills,
an attempt to put pressure
on her husband
to give her money.
She hates her in-laws.
Because the woman
alleged dowry abuse,
the women's police unit
had to answer the call.
Valuable hours wasted
on exactly the sort of case
they shouldn't be dealing with.
Meanwhile, serious dowry crime
all over the city is ignored.
It was like this
night after night.
The flood of dowry cases
coming to the women's cell
never stops.
Even when they're effective,
the police are working with laws
that everyone ignores.
[people chattering]
There've been some recent
and high-profile cases
of young women
resisting dowry demands,
calling off their marriages
on the wedding day.
But these are the exceptions.
[arguing in Hindi]
What are the men doing?
Why aren't the young men
outraged by this?
And they're not!
And in fact,
precisely because they are not
and they're complicit
in this practice,
which is nothing
but the death warrant
for a young woman.
It's the practice!
It's not just,
at the end of the time,
the killing,
it's the--
And if there's no resistance
from young men of this practice,
that's where really
the problem lies.
[bell tolling in distance]
The Sharmas have little reason
for optimism.
The police appear
to have dropped
the Kajal investigation.
The suicide note
hasn't been examined.
Dr. Singh's gone back at work.
And the Sharmas haven't got
the dowry back.
[bell tolling]
The Sharmas, along with other
middle-class families
had agreed to barter off
their daughter.
A husband bought in exchange
for large sums of money
and then constant pressure
for more.
By agreeing to play
the dowry system,
they and others contribute
to the injustice
in Indian society that
they say they are fighting.
As far as the delivery
of justice is concerned,
we certainly have
a very long way to go,
as far as cases and atrocities
against women are concerned.
There's a very low rate
of conviction in India.
And we want to ensure that
the Sharma case
is not just another statistic,
to prove how unjust
the system is.
Do you feel like giving up?
Not giving up.
I am not going to give up.
I will fight till the end.
Without hoping
for the good result
or bad result like that.
Do you think money's--
[woman 2]
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
The most important thing
is money.
'Cause I know your wife has said
right from the beginning,
all she wants is justice.
Will you ever get justice?
No, I have got very little hope.