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A recent research showed that an increase in gold prices is a great threat to girl children in our country. The fear of higher dowry leads people to kill them even before being born!
“Hey Bhagwan beti paida ho gai, ab kya kare?”
“bojh-bojh-bojh… beta hota to paise leta, ye to sirf paise lutwaegi… paraya dhan… paraya dhan”
(Oh god! A girl is born. What do we do now? She is a burden. If it was a son then he would have earned us money but a daughter just makes us spend our money)
You must be thinking that this is some dramatic dialogue from a Bollywood movie, but trust me, it’s not. It is the actual reality of a lot of households in India where the birth of a girl child is still considered ‘unfortunate’, because of people’s mentality that girls are ‘paraya-dhan‘ and they fear the paying the dowry to get them married.
In a recent research, it was observed that the rise in the gold prices in India results in an increase in death due to dowry and female foeticide. Gold is an important part of bridal dowries in India. So, when gold prices go up, the cost of raising girls rises and families tend to neglect or abort them.
Dowry is an evil practice of gaining money from the bride’s side through marriage. In the ancient Indian system of dowry, the parents or relatives of the bride gave wealth to her in the form of valuable gifts, land, etc – to the bride and not to the groom or his family. Also, the amount and contents of dowry were decided solely by the parents of the bride. This gave the required financial independence for women who managed their own income from the agricultural land, etc.
Now, the original concept has been moulded into a social evil to gain money through marriage which makes it a business rather than a relationship. In modern India, dowry is demanded by the groom’s parents and marriages take place only if a certain amount of dowry is paid by the bride’s parents. Today it is given as compensation to the groom’s parents for spending on educating and upbringing of their son. Obviously, it’s the responsibility of the bride’s parents to pay for the education and achievements of the groom. Isn’t it?
There is a saying in Andhra Pradesh, “Bringing up a daughter is like watering a plant in another’s courtyard.” Doesn’t this summarise the mindset of having a girl child, and more importantly, about marriage in India? India has legally banned and attempted enforcing the law against prenatal sex-testing and female foeticide. However, the practice is common across both affluent and poor strata of our society. The girl child is aborted or even worse, they are abandoned in infancy. According to a 2011 finding, 90% of 11 million abandoned children are girls. Also, the sex ratio in our country is very low.
It’s not necessary for a girl to get married to have a fulfilling life, but a huge part of our society still believes that marriage is the ultimate goal of a girl’s life. Girls are considered ‘useless’ and many families see no point in investing on the education of girls as they are only meant only for marriage and providing an heir. Because of this, since her birth, parents start collecting money for dowry and the marriage, even taking loans with high interest rates.
Many girls also go through harassment because of not giving ‘enough’ dowry, which ultimately leads to death in many cases. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) states that in 2015, as many as 7,634 women died in the country due to dowry harassment. Either they were burnt alive or forced to commit suicide over dowry demand. Data further reveals that after registration of dowry deaths, police have charge sheeted around 93.7 percent of the accused, of which only 34.7 percent have been convicted. The remaining cases are still pending in various courts.
The government has taken many steps to stop the abominable practice of dowry. The Dowry Prohibition Act, passed in 1961, prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of the dowry. Here ‘dowry’ is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs.5000. Also, many anti-dowry legislations have also been made. The media has done its bit by showcasing the cases of dowry and its ill-effects.
Yet day by day increasing deaths due to dowry harassment and the fear of giving dowry shows that laws are not very effective. But by educating people, there is a hope that one day this evil would be eradicated from our society. In the end, the use or misuse of law depends on us. If we need a change then we will have to bring the change. We must ask ourselves, what is our contribution in bringing about this change?
Image Source – Pixabay
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