Lower rainfall could spark domestic violence, dowry killings in India

Lower rainfall could spark domestic violence, dowry killings in India
The world’s second-most-populous country faces drought predictions after a devastating heat wave.

As monsoon season arrives in India, the nation's meteorological department has warned citizens to expect lower rainfall levels for the second year in a row, on the heels of one of the deadliest heat waves in history. The predicted drought could prove dangerous not only for India's economy but also, according to one University of Virginia economist, for its female population.

Examining the effects of climate change in India, Sheetal Sekhri, an assistant professor of economics, found that decreases in rainfall are correlated with increases in domestic violence and with dowry killings, in which a husband (and his family) kills his wife so that he can remarry and obtain new dowry payments.

According to Sekhri's study, one standard deviation decrease from long-term average rainfall correlates with approximately an 8 percent increase in dowry killings in the affected region.

This year, India is predicted to receive only 88 percent of its long-term average rainfall during the four-month , which begins in June. Given the precipitation variability expected with climate change, such deficits could become more common and more dangerous in a country where 600 million Indians are directly supported by agriculture.

"Vulnerable populations, generally, are expected to face high burdens when we see climate change," Sekhri said. "If we do see more droughts, it is possible that we would see an increase in domestic violence and dowry deaths."

Sekhri and her coauthor examined data gathered in each of India's 583 districts from 2002 to 2007 and found two key pieces of evidence. Agricultural production generally fell steeply when rainfall levels were lower, causing economic distress, and dowry payments generally increased in these times of distress. Other forms of sexual assault and crime did not display the same correlation, leading Sekhri to believe that leading to dowry killings is more strongly linked to economic hardship than to social or religious motivation.

"To us, it looks very compelling that rainfall deficits increase dowry deaths," she said.

Having published her research on dowry deaths in the Journal of Development Economics, Sekhri has turned her attention to a related climate issue that has claimed thousands of Indian lives this year: excessive heat.

Her team has aggregated daily temperature data for every district in India from 1996 to 2012, along with each district's annual death rates, which measures deaths per 1,000 people.

"Increases in above-average degree days, I can conclusively say, will increase crude death rates," she said. "What we know less about are the mitigation strategies. How can [India] best adapt to changing climate patterns?"

Seeking solutions, Sekhri's team, in ongoing research, has gathered additional data from across India to quantify how improved irrigation and access to aquifers and electricity could lower the crude death rate in areas suffering from excessive heat. So far, the impacts of such relief efforts appear significant, she said.

In relation to precipitation shortages, Sekhri's team also examined solutions to economically motivated dowry killings, which unfortunately proved murkier.

"We thought that if political representation of women increased, it might lead to changes in policing, as well as make more women willing to come forward before the situation escalated to death," Sekhri said.

However, data was limited by the scarcity of women holding national office in India, and Sekhri's team did not see any significant decreases in dowry killings in areas where women did win national elections. Increases in female representation at municipal and village levels might prove more helpful, she said.

For now, Sekhri hopes that her research can bring awareness to the social implications of climate variations and spark life-saving prevention efforts as India and other developing countries come face-to-face with the human impact of .

Explore further

NASA sees the start of India's monsoon season

More information: "Dowry Deaths: Response to Weather Variability in India." people.virginia.edu/~ss5mj/Dow … eaths_rainshocks.pdf
Citation: Lower rainfall could spark domestic violence, dowry killings in India (2015, June 18) retrieved 21 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-06-rainfall-domestic-violence-dowry-india.html
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Jun 18, 2015
Don't put faith in the democratic process. That's the fallacy the U.S. falls into, and it kills us slowly, but surely.

Democracy does not solve moral problems, because democracy only does what the majority allows to happen. You need moral reformation to solve this problem, and that starts with what is taught in your home and in your religion.

The U.S. has among the highest domestic murder rates in the world and among the highest rates of rape and other sexual abuse in the world, but our leaders are blind fools who think we are the ultimate nation just because we are a democracy.

Democracy without morality is a farce.

Representation doesn't change that. Women are well voted and well represented in the U.S. and yet it does nothing to change the rate of rape and other abuse.

Jun 18, 2015
Women in the U.S. like to date drunks, felons, and misdemeanor convicts because it's "exciting" to them, then they wonder why they get in relationships where they get raped and beaten and stuff. Well, duh, you reap what you sow. You date a felon you get a felon. You date a drunk you get raging and beating. The same woman wouldn't date a decent man who'd treat her right, but she'll fall for the evil guy every time, and if she survives her encounter with that particular criminal, she'll immediately go find another one.

Evil men, definitely, but a good portion of the female population are defective.

If a guy beats you, for ANY reason, or keeps pressing you for sex after you said no, then he doesn't love you. If his intimate talk is about how good your vagina is instead of loving you, then he doesn't love you. If he can't do his own fucking chores around the house, and cook for himself and do his own clothes, then he doesn't love you. Get rid of him, he's not worth your time.

Jun 18, 2015
Nothing like a lecture on how to behave to cure the lack of rainfall in India.

Jun 18, 2015
Nothing like a lecture on how to behave to cure the lack of rainfall in India.

Rainfall doesn't cure evil, silly fool.

The article is concerned with the killings motivated by greed, and it is evident from the article that they believe the practical solution is a matter of having more female representation in government. I show from the U.S. example, which has plenty women in government and plenty rain, that those aren't solutions.

Evil people do evil things. The fact that a poor rainy season seems to trigger them more easily is actually irrelevant. Anyone willing to murder their wife for money in a drought is a bad person anyway, they just haven't been caught yet on the other evils they do.

Jun 21, 2015
I really don't think the amount of rainfall is to blame for the violence perpetuated on the women in that country. I think the good people need to get out an do some serious ass-kicking instead of turning a blind eye to the problem.

Jun 21, 2015
Is that Gold on a "poor" person's finger?

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