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How much has really changed when it comes to dowry deaths in India? The recent stories of two young women are revealing.
Around the time India was mourning the Delhi gang-rape victim (December 2012 – January 2013), another sad story was being played out in Delhi and Gujarat, perhaps with equally strong and even more dangerous ramifications than the horrible rape.
Preeti Dhaka, a newly recruited sub-inspector of the Delhi Police returned to Delhi in late December 2012 during street protests against the gang-rape to rejoin duty. She had married Sunil Mund, a Border Security Force officer, in November the same year.
On December 31, 2012, she wrote a letter to her sister, saying, among other things, that her husband had told her that if she were dead he would be free to marry again and that her sister-in-law and mother-in-law were also pressurizing her for dowry. She added that the husband was insistent that he be given a new car apart from the furniture, refrigerator and a flat screen TV that were already given to him as dowry.
In early January 2013 Preeti again took leave to join her husband in Gujarat where he was undergoing training. On January 12, 2013, her body was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her husband’s flat. In a note written prior to her suicide, Preeti wrote that her husband was harassing her for dowry, but that she had never made a formal complaint or reported this to her police colleagues.
Her colleagues in Delhi Police say she never gave them any inkling of the mental torture she was going through. MS Raj, her superior, later said, “Just like any other woman, she had also that tendency not to report things because it may go against her…She may not be accepted in the family.”
Ajay Choudhury, another senior officer later said that sadly, “…you (women) have to behave in a particular manner; you must respect the family into which you are going…Only your dead body should come out of the house in which you have been married.”
In any case, police charged Sunil Mund, his mother and his sister with harassing Ms. Dhaka into killing herself and inflicting cruelty on her. Last heard of, they were awaiting trial.
What revived my memory of this case was the recent suspension of Rishikesh Meena, an IPS officer of the West Bengal cadre, who was accused by his wife Archana (herself an IAS officer) of torture and violence and of threatening to kill their young daughter, all in the name of demanding dowry. Rishikesh Meena has since been suspended, and a police complaint lodged against him.
I really have no comments to offer on the above two narrations, except that if male mindsets are so miserably medieval, nothing might change. Here are two men, one a BSF officer, and another an IPS officer who have shamed themselves and committed crimes not only against women, but against humanity itself.
And here are also two women, one, who could not bear the torture and chose to end her life; and the other who had the guts to stand up against such bestiality. My tribute to both.
My only question is, when will our collective heads hang in shame?
I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management and good governance. I am also the proud father of two lovely daughters. read more...
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For International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, let's look at how we 'accept' mothers who avenge violence against their kids, but not wives who fight back.
The silver screen is replete with depictions of male rage and men engaging in violence, but when women engage in violence, even when it is reactionary violence, it doesn’t sit right with us. We allow mothers (as portrayed in Sridevi’s Mom and Raveena Tandon’s Maatr) to avenge their daughters and resort to violence when all else fails, but when the abuser is an intimate partner, the rules appear to be different.
Depictions of female rage on screen garner mixed reactions. We root for protagonists and films we agree with like Mom or Maatr, but there are also films like Darlings which drew flak for its depictions of reactionary violence.
This begs the question, which women on screen are allowed to fight back and why do we root for some of these characters while refusing to see where others come from?
This Generation To Generation Violence towards A Daughter-in-law Needs To Stop!
It is ironic how women in the same home do not think twice before harassing a woman who left her parents and family behind to live with her husband.
“My daughter needs a husband who listens to her. He should leave his family to stay with her after marriage. He should be well-off and not let her do chores.”
“I also need an obedient daughter-in-law, who will be an unpaid servant and a punching bag who shouldn’t have a life of her own.”
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