Indian bride commits suicide after being forced to donate kidney as part of sick dowry demand

Published: April 25, 2014

Indian bride Poonam Devi set herself ablaze because of dowry harassment from her husband’s family. CEN News.


Indian police are investigating after discovering that a young bride had been forced to give her new husband’s family one of her kidneys as part of the dowry price in order to get married.

The tradition of paying money from the family of the bride to the family of the groom is one that goes back thousands of years and despite official efforts it still results every year in the abuse, and even death, of brides when the family of their new husbands are unhappy with the money paid.

But the idea of a bride being forced into organ donation as part of the dowry is a first. And it only came to light after the family of the groom decided they were not happy with the donation, and demanded more money in addition to the kidney.

They had earlier promised that if the kidney was donated they would drop any further demands, but as soon as it had been provided they resumed their demands and as a result the young woman Poonam Devi, aged 28, had killed herself – leaving behind a suicide note explaining why.

Her parents have now complained to police in the city of Hazaribagh in the northeastern Indian district of Jharkhand saying that harassment was the cause of her death.

Her father Barhan Bharati said that the mother of two children had been asked for years for more money despite the fact that the family had already paid 130,000 Indian rupees ($2,365) in cash among other things as dowry when she married eight years ago. They had then agreed to donate the kidney and appeared to settle the row once and for all, but the demands had not ended.

Poonam’s husband Sudama Giri had needed the kidney when both his stopped functioning and doctors recommended kidney transplantation.

Poonam agreed to donate her kidney to Giri only when her in-laws promised that they would not torture her for dowry and treat her well, but the torture went on even after she donated one of her kidneys, and after they failed to fulfil the demand, Poonam set herself on fire.

Police Superintendent Manoj Kaushik told reporters that the investigation was ongoing and the guilty would be punished.

Every year thousands of brides die as a result of dowry abuse in India, a tradition which goes back thousands of years. Its original intent, scholars say, was to protect women, who by bringing property and belongings to the marriage could enjoy some creature comforts and not have to depend entirely on their husbands.

But somewhere along the line, what was supposed to be security for the bride came to be seen as a boom to the groom and his family, a way for them to augment their wealth. India’s economic boom since the mid-1990s, which has seen incomes grow and living standards rise for many, has not stemmed the tide of dowry-related violence.

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