Cabinet okays draft of anti-dowry law
Mohammad Abu Bakar Siddique

The Cabinet has approved the draft of Anti-Dowry Law 2017 which includes the provision for up to 14 years of imprisonment in cases of emotional abuse causing suicide and life-term jail for bodily harm.

  • Thematic representation of wedding dowry 
    Photo- Bigstock

The draft was approved on principle at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday morning.

Highlighting the aspects of the bill at a press briefing after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said it constitutes strict jail time and fines for those who abuse women or incite them to commit suicide if they are not able to pay dowry to their in-laws.

However, the amount of fine has not been specified in the law, he added.

Shafiul further said in a dowry case the law would recognise the husband's family as the accused as history has shown that only men or their families demand dowry from their wives; there is no precedence of a woman or her family demanding dowry from her husband.

In the existing law, both husband and wife can be accused of demanding dowry.

The draft has been formulated bringing little changes in the existing law.

It defines dowry as anything that a husband, his parents or anyone directly related to his family demands from the wife.

The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs initially recommended death penalty for inciting suicide in the draft, but it was later revised.

In case of light injuries, Shafiul said the accused will be imprisoned for three years, or charged with a fine, or both.

Based on the suffering of the victim, a court can also order the accused to provide lifelong alimony to the victim.

One can be sentenced to prison for one to five years, or charged a Tk50,000 fine, or both for assisting in the exchange of dowry.

The current law, first enacted in 1980 and amended three times since, only has the provision for punishment for demanding dowry, but it does not include punishment for physical abuse in relation to dowry.

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