An Australian politician has asked the Victorian government to introduce a ban on dowry, saying that such practices could lead to domestic violence. Ted Baillieu, former premier of Victoria, tabled a petition in the state parliament last month which sought a specific ban on the dowry and amendments to family violence laws, media reports said today.
“There is an aspect of dowry which leads to this sort of problem. The coercive and continuing demands for further dowry have been a significant problem in some areas of our community and we need to do something about it,” he said.
“The victims may find themselves subjected to demands for more dowry, demands for continuing dowry, and that leads in some instances to family breakdown, intimidation and family violence,” he said. His move came after Indian-origin psychiatrist Manjula O’Connor contacted him on the issue while he was the premier.
O’Connor, who has been working with domestic violence victims largely Indian community, said the matter would now be referred to Victorian Law Reform Commission and she was going to meet state Attorney-General Robert Clark.
Baillieu said that domestic violence was a big issue across several communities in Australia but dowry demand was a big part of it when it comes to Indian community.
“There is an increase in dowry related cases here and that is also because the Indian community is growing,” she said, adding the issue was not limited to the Indian community but was seen?in other South Asian communities.
Baillieu said, “It’s a historic and cultural tradition but in India they have seen fit to ban dowry, but I don’t think that’s enforced.”
He further said, “What we’re fundamentally talking about is family violence, and family violence has many causes and we have to do whatever we can to stamp it out.”
“Anybody who commits family violence is committing a crime and we need to get that to be part of our cultural understanding,” he said.