CAIRO - Recent crime statistics showing a huge increase in bride-burning and other dowry related crimes have shocked Indian Muslims, triggering campaigns against the killing dowries tradition.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics should astonish the world, Aleem Khan Falki, an activist campaigning against dowries and the founder of Socio Reform Society Jeddah, told Arab News.
In this age of education and technology, could India be such a savage country that it burns one woman to death every hour? he asked.
The shocking figures released by NCRB last week showed that ,233 Indian women were killed in 2012 in dowry-related violence, or nearly one per hour.
The incidence of dowry deaths grew by nearly 3% over the previous five years, and torture at the hands of a husband or family increased by 5.4%, with 99,135 cases reported by survivors in 2011.
According to women rights activists, the scope of the problem is expected to exceed statistics with many women and parents being reluctant to seek prosecution for fear of scandal
Falki stressed that dowries were once deemed a social evil but have now affected the morale, economy and all social values of India.
The worse effect of the dowry is that the parents have to spend every single penny of their savings on the dowry of the daughters and leave nothing for the sons, said Falki.
The sons have no other option except adopting lower and contemptuous professions like auto driver, peons, sweepers or tea boys.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
In Indian society, the family of the bride pays the dowry.
As a result of high dowries tradition, several young girls were obliged to discontinue education because the parents have the responsibility of getting them married off.
Several parents were also forced to take loans from banks to pay dowry to the groom.
As a result of rising poverty, many activists have warned that the sale of brides has become prevalent in India's rural areas in the past decade.
Parents in some rural areas were also selling their kidneys to pay for dowry.
Shocked by the statistics, a group called the 50 Million Missing Campaign lamented the terrible fact.
Dowry in India today "has become the No. 1 method of criminal extortion through the infliction of blackmail, torture, violence, and murder of women, the campaign said.
"Every son born into a family is greedily viewed as the golden goose' who will bring in the fantasized wealth through the dowry they will demand when he gets married. So families want more and more sons.
There is no end to the wealth demand even after marriage, and if the woman is killed, the son can marry again. For another dowry! Why kill, why not just divorce? In the case of divorce, there is always the chance that the woman or her family will demand their dowry money/items back, the campaign added.
Indian Muslims have also urged scholars to campaign against the killing tradition.
said dowries are considered "haram" or forbidden in Islam and there would be no disputes if all Muslims follow such rule.
It is true that the dowry system has become a big problem for everyone regardless of religion, Abdul Raouf, an Indian who works in Jeddah, said, describing dowries as haram or forbidden in Islam.
Especially in Islam it's not allowed according to Shari`ah, but people in India and Third World countries don't follow these law.
Dr. Sayeed Haroon, a Jeddah-based consultant, agreed, urging community leaders and religious schools to spread awareness about the deadly practice.
It's not only the problem of Muslims but all the religions in India, Haroon said.
In our religion simple marriages are the best marriages according to Qur'an and Sunnah, but people are going in wrong directions.
Because of this, many young girls are sitting at home and not getting married on time and going astray or committing suicide.