A woman dies an average of nearly once an hour in India over dowry disputes, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, despite the fact that the practice has been outlawed since 1961.
The statistics bureau said last year, 8,233 women were killed across India because of crimes related to dowry payments given by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage.
The conviction rate, however, in dowry-related crimes remained a low 32 percent, the bureau published last week.
Women's rights activists and police said that loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in the crimes.
Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes of society. "Even highly educated people don't say no to dowry," she said.
Dowry demands have also become more insistent and expensive since India's economic boom, said Ranjana Kumari, a women's rights activist.
On Tuesday, the Times of India reported that actress Sweta Mishra, who featured in several movies in her childhood, had been "tortured" by her husband for dowry.
The Times said "she was not only 'forced' to sleep on the floor in freezing temperatures in Switzerland, where her husband works, but also beaten up by him, she has alleged."
Last month, the Times reported that a young married woman living in a rural village "not only severely bashed up but also hanged and killed ... allegedly due to her failure to bring more dowry."
In October 2012, a dowry-related crime was reported in international headlines when an Indian woman and her baby were set on fire in their sleep over a dowry-dispute.
Family members said that the husband had been angry not only because dowry demands were not met, but also because their first child was a daughter instead of a son.
Al Jazeera and wire services