In some countries, bride burnings or dowry deaths are not uncommon.
Indian bride ‘burnt alive by husband’s family because her skin was too dark’
Andrew Marszal, Delhi, Calcutta Telegraph, 9 June 2016
An Indian woman was allegedly set on fire and killed by her husband’s family because she was too dark-skinned and they wanted him to remarry a fairer bride.
According to a report in the Calcutta-based newspaper The Telegraph, Somera Bibi’s in-laws had insisted on a large payment of 100,000 rupees (£1,000) and farmland when the pair first wed to “compensate” for her dark skin colour.
They had since been extorting more money from Mrs Bibi’s family to continue with the marriage ever since, the victim’s family alleged.
On her deathbed, Mrs Bibi, 22, reportedly told police in West Bengal she had been attacked for finally protesting against the treatment of her family, who had been forced to cough up a further 250,000 rupees since the wedding and were now broke.
She said that following a fight on June 3, her husband, his mother and three brothers had locked her in a room and doused her in kerosene before leaving her to die. Neighbours in Parun village broke into the house after hearing screams and seeing smoke, but Mrs Bibi later died of her wounds in hospital.
Mrs Bibi’s brother, Khayer Hossain, told the Calcutta Telegraph: “For the first time, with her back to the wall, she started protesting. She said enough money had been given for the colour of her skin and there was none left to give. They wouldn’t listen.”
He added: “They wanted to get him married to someone fair.”
“Dowry deaths”, where a new bride is murdered because her family either will not or cannot satisfy incessant demands by her husband and in-laws for further money and goods after the wedding, are still relatively common in India. Over 24,771 such deaths were reported across the country in the three years from 2012 to 2014, working out at nearly one every hour.
India’s ancient dowry system, which is illegal but still prevalent, is associated with caste, where the bride’s family would pay a sum to her future husband’s relatives to ensure a good match. Skin colour is often a strong indicator of caste in India.
According to the report, Somera’s mother Tandila Biwi alleged in her police complaint that the husband’s family regularly beat her daughter and told her “You are dark. We don’t want you in the family”.
Mrs Bibi’s husband and his relatives are believed to have absconded with her two-year-old son. Local police did not respond to request for comment last night.
West Bengal has the country’s highest rate of cruelty by a husband or his family to wives, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, with 61,259 cases reported.