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Assault on newly-wed woman: Kerala Women's Commission slams police

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Thiruvananthapuram/Kozhikode, May 15 (PTI) The Kerala Women's Commission on Wednesday slammed the police for its stand with regard to a newly-wed woman's complaint accusing her husband of brutally assaulting and attempting to kill her over dowry.

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Kerala Women's Commission (KWC) chairperson P Satheedevi said police officers who think that husbands have a right to do bodily harm to their wives "are an insult to the force" and emphasised the need for gender sensitisation training of Kerala police personnel.

She told reporters in the state capital that the KWC received a complaint on behalf of the victim yesterday and immediately the SHO of the Pantheerankavu police station, within whose jurisdiction the groom's family resides, was called to find out the details.

"The complaint we got contained serious allegations of severe cruelty against the woman at her matrimonial home and that she was hospitalised in connection with that. However, when she went to the police station, her claims were not taken seriously.

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"Instead, what I came to understand is that, the police advocated that the woman settle the matter and continue to live with her husband despite facing such cruelty," Satheedevi said.

Slamming the stand taken by the police in the matter, the KWC chairperson said, "Police officers who think that husbands have a right to do bodily harm to their wives are an insult to the force." She said she had come to know through news reports that the investigating officer and his team have been replaced with other officers and termed it a welcome move.

Satheedevi also called for a change in the societal mindset which leads to the dowry-related harassment of women, especially those who are well educated.

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She said in recent times there have been several instances where well-educated women have undergone dowry-related harassment both before and post-marriage.

"There are still people who see women as commodities and marriages as business transactions. This needs to change. For that the relevant laws and the rules need to be amended," she said.

Earlier in the day, the in-laws of the bride denied the allegation that they had demanded dowry.

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The groom's mother claimed her daughter-in-law was refusing to stay in the matrimonial home and that led to an argument and subsequent fight between the couple.

"We never demanded dowry as we do not require it," the woman told TV channels.

Meanwhile, the bride's father said that he does not expect the police in Pantheerankavu to carry out a proper probe.

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"They (the police) did not take the matter seriously," he claimed.

He said the case should be transferred to Ernakulam district and demanded stringent punishment for the accused groom.

"I have sent complaints to the Kerala CM, Women's Commission and Aluva SP. Have sought justice for my daughter in those complaints," he said.

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Regarding reports that the police have assured it will add an attempt to murder charge against the accused, the bride's father said it would be good if that is done.

On Tuesday, after the allegations by the bride and her family surfaced and were aired on TV channels, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) registered a case on its own and ordered an investigation.

The SHRC directed the Kozhikode City Police Commissioner to conduct a detailed investigation and submit a report within 15 days.

The bride had alleged that her husband brutally assaulted and attempted to kill her over dowry, barely a week after their wedding on May 5.

As news of the alleged assault spread, State Minister of Health and Women and Child Development Veena George had said the victim will be provided with all support, including legal assistance.

Terming the assault on the newly-married woman as extremely cruel and stating that it shocks the conscience, the Minister had said strong legal action will be taken to prevent people from perpetrating such crimes, and recommended that society unite against social evils such as dowry and domestic violence.

Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan had criticised the police inaction in the case, and asked whether it stands with the victim or the perpetrators. PTI HMP HMP SS

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