Of late, the abnormal increase in the murders of women in Assam has been a major cause for concern. That the number of women killed in the State is abnormally high has been noticed for quite some time. However, on Monday, Assam’s Transport and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary put up the matter in the Legislative Assembly with the requisite figures to refer to a serious social aberration that we have been living with for some time. Patowary informed the House that a total of 2,118 women had been murdered in Assam since 2011. He said that 840 women had been killed for dowry and 76 of them in cases relating to witch-hunting. He informed the House that the year 2014 alone recorded 414 cases of such murders of women, of which 159 women had been killed for dowry. He said the number of cases of women murdered increased from 319 in 2011 to 413 in 2015. He added that 384 women were killed in 2012 and 393 women were killed in 2013. Patowary was furnishing the data in the Assam Assembly in response to legislator Kamali Basumatary’s queries about the number of women murdered in Assam. According to Patowary, who was replying on behalf of Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal, 80 of the total number of murders were related to rape, 76 to witch-hunting, 112 to domestic violence and 840 to dowry. A total of 1,030 women were killed for other reasons. He said the number of rape-related deaths had increased from six in 2011 to 13 last year. He added that the State had witnessed 23 incidents of witch-hunting in 2011, nine in 2012, 18 in 2013, 15 in 2014 and 29 in 2015. He said, murder for dowry (in a State that has long prided itself in being free from dowry) had become a serious issue, with studies by a few NGOs revealing that dowry demands were not confined to jewellery, furniture and cars any more, and that the bridegroom’s family often demanded money from the bride’s family to pay bribes for securing a government job for their son. Patowary said that according to ‘Assam Human Development, 2014’ almost 40 per cent of the State’s married women suffered domestic physical violence. Of this lot, 82 per cent of the violence was committed by the husband. According to Patwary, crimes against women in Assam had increased from 15.23 per cent in 2008 to 18.52 per cent in 2013.
The abnormal increase in the crime rate of the State in recent years is a matter of serious concern for citizens. What makes matters worse is the extent of crimes committed against women. This is indeed unfortute for any society because crimes against women generally constitute crimes against homemakers. In any case, they are crimes against those who hold a home and a family together. But this consideration apart, crimes against women reflect the real face of a society where the physically stronger males are beginning to target women since they are uble to vent their and anger frustrations against their male counterparts. This is precisely the mental make-up of the bully who takes his frustrations and anger out against physically weaker persons. We cannot afford to be seen as a society that countences an increasing number of bullies. A healthy human society must comprise a large percentage of individuals who will not tolerate bullies and will not hesitate to take action against bullies. Another aspect of crimes against women in Assam that should be a matter of shame is what is related to dowry. Are we collectively trying to forget that Assam was a State that was free from dowry? This was something that we were all rightly proud of. It is distressing to find that a greater percentage of the crimes against women in Assam are related to dowry, and that in many cases the dowry is expected from the parents of the bride in order to pay the required bribe for securing a job for the bridegroom. The very mutation of a society that was free from dowry into one where crimes are committed against women for dowry ought to be a matter of great shame for everyone concerned.