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Dowries Leading to Family Violence?

By March 1, 2017No Comments

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has recently recommended that the state government consider new laws to include dowry-related abuse as a form of domestic violence.

The practise of bestowing dowries upon marriage has been a longstanding one in many cultures and continues in many migrant communities in Australian. The commission’s report found that women within these communities – especially those of African, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent – are disproportionately affected by family violence. The report has linked dowry-related abuse as a factor contributing to this over-representation.

Indian-born psychiatrist and Director at the Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health, Dr Manjula O’Connor, has characterised the practise of dowries as one that creates a hierarchy of power within a marriage relationship, with women at the bottom.

“We need culturally sensitive laws that will pick up and punish culturally nuanced abuse of power,” she wrote in a recent newsletter.

Women who refuse dowry demands can often find themselves homeless, or facing visa issues.

The new laws would ban dowries, with strict punishments for anyone who provides or accepts payment for a bride.

To read more regarding the proposed laws, see:


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