"This is not in keeping with the values that we share in Australian society."
The pressures of dowry were highlighted in a case of domestic violence in Australia.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons; is of Indian descent.
The man pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court, as reported by, ABC Australia.
His plea was in response to the following charges: assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and breaching a domestic violence order.
The court heard how he slapped his wife of four months. He would drag her by the hair and threaten to kill her due to dowry pressures from his family in India.
Dowry-related violence is an issue across the world, however as highlighted by, Stop Violence Against Women (SVAW), it is more common in South Asia.
“Dowry-related violence is most prevalent in South Asia, in the nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”
The SVAW organisation also shed light on the most common forms of dowry-related violence, including; marital rape, battering, wife burning and acid burning.
This couple were married as part of an arranged marriage in India, they had known each other for less than one month.
The accused man told the court:
“I just went up there (India) and got married and came back within 28 days.”
Four months into the marriage is when the abuse began.
After bringing his wife to south-east Queensland, Australia, to live with one of his relatives, the pressures for dowry began to amount.
The accused’s family began to call, demanding their supposed $10,000 share of a shocking $20,000 dowry request.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Phillip Stephens explained to the court how over the course of a week the violence began.
Sergeant Stephens highlighted that in addition to the slapping, hair pulling and dragging; the accused also hit his wife’s head against the bed frame, threatening to kill her.
Continuing sergeant Stephens said:
“Incidents arose due to what he claims are monies owed to him or his family are part of a promised dowry payment.
“This is not in keeping with the values that we share in Australian society.
“He must know that such behaviours will not be tolerated by courts, no matter what your race creed or clan.”
The sergeant feels that the accused should have been sentenced to a minimum of nine months in jail.
This was suggested as he felt there needed to be a clear message sent, that Australia does not tolerate such patriarchal and violent practices.
The man’s lawyer, Anna Smith, protested to the court that it was not a cultural issue that caused the violence.
Ms Smith said to the court:
“Yes, there was an arranged marriage. It was not the reason, or any reason as to why he found himself assaulting the complainant.”
She insisted that it was the pressures of wedded life which caused the abuse.
Ms Smith argued that the root of the issue was not a pre-existing cultural attitude that promoted violence towards women:
“He had a new wife, pressure from families externally, he’s extremely remorseful for the way that he dealt with it but it wasn’t because he thought it was right, culturally, to do so,” Said Ms Smith.
Further defending her client, she cited his previously clean criminal record in addition to a positive employer’s reference.
However, this did not stand in court for the magistrate presiding.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin wanted to make it known that Australia was very serious about domestic violence and would not tolerate such cases.
Magistrate Baldwin highlighted that this case was at its crux about dowry and dowry-related violence:
“If you say he’s an Australian he’s been living here, isn’t it incumbent upon him to say, ‘I’m an Australian, we live here, we don’t collect dowries for women anymore’?”
Magistrate Baldwin stated that this ruling is not a cultural ruling but a statement against domestic violence.
The man was sentenced to six months in jail on a suspended two-year sentence. Magistrate Baldwin did so to make an example of this case.
She highlighted that Australia “has had a gutful” of domestic violence and this sentence should be treated as a deterrent to other abusers.