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All-Pervasive Evil Of Dowry

Updated: December 4, 2010 2:25 pm

Very often the subject of dowry deaths and their preventive measures are being discussed in the media by prominent writers and thinkers. But the real truth about the dowry death does not come in our notice. We made an investigative study from April 1998 to March 2008 and collected data in the urban and rural urban areas in the districts of Uttar Pradesh. We do not claim that we have found out the absolute true cases of dowry death, but still whatever facts came out are startling. We are presenting our findings in the form of the following Table. We collected data on 5,000 cases of the alleged dowry deaths and found that the facts are quite far from the claims being made by the media. The real truth has evaded us.

                Besides these facts we have also been witness to the scenes, where many women (who by threatening to end their lives) had implicated their in-laws in legal cases and thus subjected them to fulfil their own demands. A woman has threatened the family of dire consequences and got her younger sister married to the younger brother of her husband. Many women’s threats of self-immolation were used to get separated from the joint family. Young bride’s higher expectations and aspirations and her inability to take up the responsibilities in her new family and adjust herself to the new environment often leads to murders or suicides. Every new bride of some value dreams of finding a husband who owns a bungalow, a car, has a handsome income, good status in society and a number of servants, though she may be having none of these comforts in her parental house.

                You may very often come across a well-educated, well-placed, handsome-young man married to just a literate working woman and getting along well in life but a highly-educated lady executive if marries a man with lesser merits can make his life hell due to her ego. There is a great possibility that she may leave her ordinary or lesser-qualified husband for greener pastures ahead.

                Not only the groom or his parents may be putting demand for dowry i.e. cash and items of comfort, but it is often seen that the would-be-bride is also handing over the list of items to her parents to carry them to her new home.

                Once I was sitting in the house of a friend, where the prospects of the marriage of her younger sister were being discussed. The groom side had not put up any demand but the girl in question insisted that her parents must give colour TV, motor bike etc in marriage for obvious reasons. After all she had to hold her head high before her wouldbe mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

                In an other case, a neighbour’s daughter, a teacher for some time, had reached marriageable age. When her elder sister was married off a few years ago, her father had spent Rs 3 lakh on her marriage. The father has now become a PCS officer and so also her elder brother, the girl insisted that as the status of the family had increased and she had also saved some money, her marriage should not be celebrated with amount less than Rs 8-10 lakh. It is strange that girls are party to dowry demands. However, there are many a brave girl who refuses to go along with a dowry seeker groom and her in-laws and give a slap to their prestige.

                Now let us analyse the reason for the growth of this menace. Dowry then and now: In the olden times, people were living simple lives, hence the gifts given to the newly-wed girls were also simple. The majority was an agrarian society hence dowry consisted of some ornaments, new clothes and some other essential items. In the modern times, living standards of urban people have greatly increased, people are mad after collecting all the material items to live a comfortable and easy life. Everyone wants to get rich. A young man at the start of his career, finds it very difficult to maintain a good living standard. Often joint families are breaking and the young couple may have to collect all the comforts at a new place. It appears to them an easier way to fleece the godfather or parents of the bride at the time of marriage.

Reasons For Increased Demands

Effect of education :- There is hardly any social evil which has not decreased with education except dowry. The greater is the educational qualification of a young man, the greater is his demand and market value. If he is employed in any central or provincial service, his marriage market value reaches a few lakhs. The poor father of a bride has first to educate his daughter and make her worthy of an officer or an entrepreneur and then spend several lakhs on her marriage. So he is pressed from both the sides.

Social status :- Great competition has also entered the marriage market as in any other field. Since it has been becoming more difficult to find a suitable groom, the poor man has to counter balance the weakness of his daughter with truckloads of money and materials. The extravaganza shown at the time of marriage by rich people hits the feelings of the people of lower strata. The marriages of the sons and daughters of VVIPs, ministers, industrialists, film actresses is setting a bad precedence.

                It seems that law and education alone cannot entirely eliminate the menace of dowry and consequently the deaths of female child inside and outside the womb unless there is a socio-religious revolution in society. The out-of-proportion propaganda in the press and media should be curbed, since we find that actual dowry deaths are meager 9 per cent as compared to the 100 per cent, projected.

                Also in traditional or conventional families, the moral values are degraded now. With the result, the professional brides are being prefered there only because such an earning girls may be a regular source of income. Therefore the youth too agree to adopt even the illegal ways like prostituting, smuggling, modeling, cheating etc. Dr Sanjay Patnayak accepts that marketing, mass medias modern society and the changed role-models (ideals) are causing the common men to be changed accordingly they are forced to follow the forwarded society—so said high profile, rich and modernised.

By Sunita Singh

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