Thousands of brides are being burned alive in India despite the practice being illegal, a Christian ministry has warned.
India Partners, a Christian organization that works alonside indigenous Christian grassroots agencies in India, told Mission Network News on Thursday that there are still as many as 8,000 bride burning cases a year in the Hindu-majority country.
A representative with India Partners, identified only as John, said the low view of women is spread through parts of India's society.
“This is true both of men and women. It’s not just of men itself. Most women see the other woman as in an inferior position and not able to recognize her rights as a human being," he said.
The burning attacks, some of which have resulted in deaths, are tied to dowry and marriage disputes in rural districts.
“Horrible things like this happen, and many times they happen because of dowry deaths. Before marriage, the families will agree upon a dowry that the bride’s family generally will pay to the groom’s family," John explained.
"After marriage, the groom’s family sees the leverage of threatening the girl and asking for more money. So they will begin threats, they will begin beatings, and the rule of thumb is something like the more money you want, the more you need to beat her.”
Women are often beaten when the groom's family demands more money, which then sometimes escalates in dousing them with flammable liquid and setting them on fire.
John said that bride burning is more common in rural districts like Uttar Pradesh because the perpetrators are less likely to be prosecuted.
"But the harassment happens everywhere. In the harassment of women, your caste doesn’t make any difference. How much education you have doesn’t make any difference," he added.
Women in India continue to suffer from a widespread rape epidemic, with many stories of extreme violence, sexual assaults, and murder making international news.
Dalits, members of the so-called "untouchables" lowest caste class in India, are also subject to discrimination, especially those who choose to convert to Christianity.
Earlier this week, some 2,000 Christian Dalits marched in New Delhi, demanding that the government does not stop their social benefits due to their new faith.
The fears are based on government regulations that argue that Dalit Christians and Muslims who leave the Hindu faith can no longer be considered part of the caste, UCA News.com reported.
"Government comes and goes, and we get only false promises. Several protest rallies and marches in the past were useless. Now we play our drums to wake up the sleeping government," said Father A. Arputharaj, a protest organizer in the march.