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Burning Widows, Burning Brides: The Perils of Daughterhood in India

Dorothy Stein
Pacific Affairs
Vol. 61, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 465-485
DOI: 10.2307/2760461
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2760461
Page Count: 21
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Burning Widows, Burning Brides: The Perils of Daughterhood in India
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Abstract

Indian women are subjected to intense economic and social discrimination, and continue to suffer death rates that are well in excess of male rates, despite forty years of independence in a secular democracy with universal suffrage. Certain practices, such as sati and dowry have spread from high status Hindu groups across social boundaries. This paper traces the evolution of these practices and argues that the peculiarity of Indian civilization that enables the general devaluation of the female sex to be taken to such extremes lies in the inferior social power of the families of girls and women, and the consequent insistence on universal female marriage.

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