24-year-old Kerala woman found immolated, parents accuse husband of harassment

This is the second incident in two days of a woman’s death in Kerala due to alleged harassment over dowry.
Kerala woman death: Photo of Archana in a green and gold saree
Kerala woman death: Photo of Archana in a green and gold saree
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A second incident of a woman’s death due to alleged dowry harassment has surfaced in Kerala in the past two days — a woman named Archana was found dead in Vizhinjam in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. According to reports, 24-year-old Archana’s immolated body was found in the rented house where she and her husband Suresh had been living. Archana’s family has alleged that Suresh drove her to suicide.  

According to reports, Archana and Suresh had a love marriage, but a few months after their wedding, Suresh’s father asked for Rs 3 lakh as dowry. The amount was for Suresh's brother, so that he could buy some land. However, Archana’s father said he did not have the amount, and the discussion stopped there. However, this incident led to some issues between Suresh and his other family members, and shortly after, he moved out of the house into a rented one with Archana. Since then, the husband and wife were the only two living there.

According to reports, Archana died around 11.30 pm on June 21. Suresh had come to pick Archana on Monday, and that time, he had a diesel can with him. Archana’s father Asokan has alleged that his daughter was killed, but Suresh has said that he bought the diesel to kill ants. 

"I have met her a couple of times and she was crying. Why did he buy the diesel? My daughter didn't die by suicide, she was killed,” Archana’s father alleged.

Asokan has also accused Suresh of getting intoxicated and then fighting with Archana. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Archana’s father Asokan said, "He (Suresh) used to leave her and fight with her after getting drunk. She used to hide a lot from us. Though she completed her B.Sc in Nursing, he did not allow her to work."

Based on the father’s allegations, Archana’s husband Suresh has been taken into custody. Though the police have taken Suresh for questioning, no case has been filed yet.

Meanwhile, in another case in Kerala, a 22-year-old BAMS student Vismaya was found dead in her husband Kiran’s house in Kollam on June 21. Kiran has been arrested following allegations by Vismaya’s family that he had assaulted her on many occasions over dowry. 

Laws and helplines

If you are a woman facing violence at home, call national domestic violence hotline Dhwani - 1800 102 7282. The national helpline for women in distress is 1091. 

The rights of women who are subjected to domestic abuse are protected under the law, including the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, if a husband or relative(s) subjects the woman to cruelty that causes grave injuries (physically or mentally) — by making unlawful demand of property or valuable or for not meeting such demands — he or they will be punished with imprisonment of upto three years and fine. Besides, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 makes the practice of giving and taking dowry illegal.

Women who are subjected to domestic abuse or any person who is aware of such a situation can reach out to helplines that offer assistance. The Scheme of Universalisation of Women Helpline (WHL) number 181 is a 24 hours helpline that provides immediate and emergency response to women affected by violence in public and private spaces. The helpline links to police, hospital or other authorities concerned. Even if the woman is interrupted during the call or is unable to specify her problem or address due to an illness or a disability, WHL will trace the call and initiate an emergency response. The helpline staff will maintain the confidentiality of the caller.

The Women Helpline Directory can be accessed here. Other state-wise women’s helpline numbers can be found here.

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