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Love, respect and educate your daughters

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 4 minutes read

By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Sometime back a retired judge, who served at the Hyderabad and Madras High Courts, was booked by the police in Hyderabad for allegedly harassing his daughter-in-law for dowry and assaulting her. It reminded me a statement of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who said “You can tell the condition of the nation by looking at the status of women.” The magnitude of the criminality involved in the dowry cases and the growing number of dowry deaths and bride-burning reflect the barbarity so deeply embedded in our social system. In fact, dowry system has been known to be in existence ever since the inception of the institution of marriage in India and has been in vogue through the ages. Giving away presents and gifts in marriage by the parents of the bride has been a common practice in different castes and communities of the Indian society.
The rapid rise of dowry deaths and bride burning as an indication of the growing exertion of patriarchal power and cruelty on women in India. Unfortunately, cases of harassment, torture and burning of brides due to dowry demands are on the rise everywhere in the country. The phrase of Manusmriti, “Na Stree Swathantryam Arhati” (woman is undeserving for independence), reflects our whole attitude towards women in our country. Woman suffers discrimination and injustice in all stages of her life. It is observed that the marital relationship and social status of women due to increasing dowry demand, at times, even forces girls of marriageable age to commit suicide out of sheer frustration or for mitigating the suffering and mental tension of their parents.
Records show that there is an alarming increase in cases relating to harassment, torture, abetted suicides and dowry deaths of young brides. Number of dowry deaths have been reported which shows the level of violence being faced by the young brides. These deaths are, in reality, cold blood murders where an innocent girl gets killed only because could not bring the money or property demanded by her own husband and his relatives. One would find that in spite of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, perceived as “stringent”, the rising number of dowry related cases across the country indicates that it has hardly proved a deterrent. The most severe is “bride burning”, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Though the said provision is there and cases are being reported regularly but the rate of commission of crime of dowry death is not lessening. Apart from death, various other forms of harassment, exploitation and cruelties are being performed on hapless married women. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide. It is evident that there exist deep-rooted prejudices against women in India.
Time has now come when women should be more economically empowered and should be educated properly regarding the various legal provisions such as Section 498ACrPC, protection from domestic violence etc. only then only this evil menace could possibly be eradicated from Indian social system. Registering all gifts given during the wedding, including jewellery, should be made compulsory by law. If this is done then the groom’s side cannot claim everything for their own and the girl will also not have to resort to filing a fake dowry harassment case
It seems often the boy’s parents don’t demand dowry, but our culture is such that we feel we must give something to the in-laws. In such cases, give as much as you receive. When you go out of your way because you are the parents of the girl, you are contributing to this evil.
An astounding number of parents still don’t lay enough emphasis on educating their daughters. They believe their daughters will get married eventually, and husbands will support them, so why push them so hard? In other words, even if demands for dowry were to be satisfied fully, young women would continue to face torture and harassment in their in-laws homes because of their custom-sanctioned-inferiority that robs them of their basic human rights.
The dowry system is so deeply rooted in Indian culture, that sometimes one feels that there’s going to be no way out – at least not for another century. In case if there is an agreement on women’s mute compliance with prearranged customs, then why are our daughters dying in marriage?

 

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