Women Who Kill Women

37 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2015 Last revised: 22 Feb 2017

See all articles by Rashmi Goel

Rashmi Goel

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2015


This article focuses on the phenomenon of women who kill women in the context of India’s dowry murders. Killing by females is rare, and killing of other females is rarer still. India’s dowry deaths, where mothers-in-law are, next to husbands, the most accused and convicted, represents a unique opportunity to examine the mechanics around women who kill, especially in the context of a gender violence crime. The article examines both the roots of the dowry system and the current anti-dowry and dowry-violence legislation to demonstrate the implicit and accepted gender inequities within marriage that serve to under gird an overall system of female oppression within the marital relationship. This inequity is understood to be a positive aspect within marriage, but ironically negative within public Indian society. The article then considers various theories of agency and motivation from social science and feminist literature to answer why some women participate in oppressing other women in Indian society. Finally, the article notes some of the ways in which Indian courts are contributing to the oppressive power structure by limiting the application of the anti-dowry and dowry-violence laws.

Suggested Citation

Goel, Rashmi, Women Who Kill Women (October 1, 2015). 22 William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 549 (2015-2016), U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-52, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2668379

Rashmi Goel (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

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