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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Indian woman strips in dowry row
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Pooja Chauhan in her undergarments
Ms Chauhan's supporters say it was a protest of last resort
A woman in western India has stripped to her underwear in public to protest over alleged abuses from her husband's family for not providing a dowry.

Her in-laws were questioned by the police and have been released on bail.

The Hindu woman shocked residents of the normally conservative city of Rajkot in Gujarat state, by her half-naked parade through the street.

Women's groups say her case highlights the plight of women who continue to face abuse at the hands of males.

'Extreme steps'

There are reports that the 22-year-old tried to set herself on fire a few days ago demanding the police take immediate action against her husband and in-laws, who she alleged had been physically torturing her for a dowry.

In an interview to a local TV channel, Pooja Chauhan justified her action saying she did it to embarrass her husband and in-laws.

Although paying and accepting a dowry has been illegal in India for more than 40 years, it still goes on.

Official estimates show that every year almost 7,000 women are killed by their spouses and in-laws because of inadequate dowry payments.

Ranjana Kumari - who runs a refuge for victims of dowry and domestic abuse - says the law enforcement authorities need to be more active in tackling the problem.

"It's a shame that women are driven to take such extreme steps. The law enforcing agencies must be more active," she told the BBC News website.

A police inspector in Rajkot, SS Jhala, told the BBC that "swift action" had been taken against Ms Chauhan's family, who had been arrested and were now on bail.

Police have denied reports that they charged her for indecent behaviour.

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