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Dowry Reported, But Why Is There No “Next”?

Posted: July 1, 2012

Every day you read about the atrocities committed against the “stronger” sex (yes that was intentional!) from the time they are yet-to-be-born till they die, naturally or unnaturally. And then just when you think things cannot get worse, you hear of a story that sounds like the silver lining in the cloud, that re-affirms your faith that all is not lost, that women can speak up for themselves and will always do so.

Dowry was made illegal in India more than five decades back. But it still lingers in our society, and in every strata of the society. If at all, it takes an uglier form in the upper strata, where affordability exists, and a lot more is on stake, societal standing included. Here dowry is hidden under a blanket of rituals, traditions and gifts to the newly-wed couple.

Archana* is a well-educated girl, who studied in Delhi, is a topper in English (Hons.) from the best and most coveted girls’ college of University of Delhi and working with a leading corporate. Like in a lot of other Indian families, her parents arranged her marriage. Boy’s family met girl’s family, girl’s family met boy’s family, girl met boy and so on…

For the uninitiated, each of these occasions in an Indian wedding is marked with an exchange of gifts, with the scales tipping to the boy’s side. Then came the money for the arranging the engagement, which the girl’s side paid to the boy’s family. Then the money for the marriage arrangements, then the shagun, the gifts…. In this case, the girl remained in near-complete ignorance of whatever “gifts” were “requested”.  Three days prior to the wedding, another atrocious demand, this one for a car, was made. This conversation was overheard by chance by the girl revealing all the drama to her. And she called off the wedding. Period.

What next? If we try to analyze why this evil is still present in our country, it is because there is no “next”. We pat the girl’s back, call her a hero. We call the boy and his family names. And then everyone gets on with their lives. The girl and family report the issue and move on with their life. The boy and his family get off scot free, ready to leech at someone else’s household next. And the cycle continues.

The society can do its bit by reporting such issues, and it does! But in the absence of backup action by lawmakers, these reports become useless. Shouldn’t law move equally fast in penalizing the offenders?

* Name changed to protect privacy.

*Photo credit: Salil Waadhavkar (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

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