Kalu, 27, mother of a four-year-old boy and a 27-day-old baby, her younger sisters Kamlesh, 20, and Mamta, 22, both pregnant, were married to three brothers and lived in Dudu, under the roof of the in-laws.
The youngest, shortly before their death, had written an accusatory status on her WhatsApp message, sent to AFP by a cousin: “the in-laws are behind our five dead (…) we do not want to die but the Death is better than abuse”.
Four days after the grim news, seated on the ground, Mr. Meena, his wife, their eldest son, their three other daughters and their relatives, mourn the young deceased under their photographic portraits, arranged on shelves of the destitute residence family in Chhapya, a village near Dudu.
Their deaths are being treated as suicide until the results of autopsies, said a Jaipur police officer interviewed by AFP.
But Mr. Meena accuses his sons-in-law of the relentless abuse and bullying his daughters have endured for years.
– “So harassed” –
Elder Kalu had been admitted to hospital in April after being beaten by her husband and in-laws.
“My daughters were subjected to their violence, then came back here. But, despite the violence, they said they had to return to live in the marital home and then returned to their husbands,” the upset father told AFP.
Divorce, considered an infamy in most Indian families, Mr. Meena let them go to “save the honor of his family”.
According to Mr. Meena, the in-laws blamed them, in particular, for their meager dowries.
“Those who demand a dowry are not good people”, he underlines, “it is not human”.
The husbands of the deceased, their mother-in-law and their sister-in-law were arrested, in particular for harassment relating to dowry and domestic violence.
“They harassed them so much,” says Sonu, another daughter of Mr. Meena, “but my sisters hoped that one day things would change.”
The practice of dowry has been prohibited for more than 60 years by Indian law, which remains widely violated.
– “Educated” –
“We have already given them so many things (…)”, he adds, citing televisions, a refrigerator, furniture, “I am the father of six girls, there are limits to what I can TO DO”.
“I had provided them with an education, it was already difficult in itself,” he continues, proudly showing off their university cards.
But the spouses had forbidden his daughters to continue their studies and to work.
Stories of domestic violence and dowry disputes gone wrong are reported daily in the local press.
Last year, an Indian from the southern state of Kerala was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife by cobra bites in order to take control of her property.
Their marriage had already brought him a new car and over $6,000.
Last month, a court in Kerala sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for harassing his wife to commit suicide over her dowry.
– “Worrying resignation” –
According to data from the National Bureau of Criminal Records, nearly 7,000 housewives were killed and another 1,700 committed suicide for dowry cases in 2020.
A National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reveals that approximately 30% of married women have experienced domestic violence, defined as physical and/or sexual violence.
But women’s rights advocates say these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.
“From 30 to 40 women are victims of domestic violence every hour,” Kavita Srivastava, an activist with the non-governmental human rights organization PUCL, told AFP, stressing that these data are based only on complaints recorded by the police. police.
The fundamental problem, according to her, remains the general inertia of society in the face of domestic violence in India: “Such resignation is very worrying”.