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In a distressing piece of recent news, a young woman was found tortured to death, in a small town of Kerala. Her natal family had not been allowed to meet her for some time – why is that considered ‘normal’ in India?
As per reports, Tushara had been starved and had marks on her body which proved that she had also been brutalized. In the past few years, her in laws and husband had not allowed her to meet her family or have any contact with the outside world. Allegedly, the in-laws tortured her to her death on account of their dowry demands not being met.
Today, we live in so-called modern times. We educate our daughters and encourage them to follow their dreams and reach for the stars. Yet, at the same time we allow patriarchal evil practices such as dowry to continue. What is horrifying about this case is that the victim’s family was not allowed to meet her for over a year or even talk to her. While they did find it strange, they did not think it was necessary that they take legal action to stop their daughter’s forced isolation. While neighbours had indeed complained to various authorities, none of them considered it necessary to investigate too closely either – this is indeed how most ‘domestic issues’ are treated in most cases.
The age old thinking and mindset that once the daughter is married she ‘belongs’ to her new family has to stop. A woman makes herself a part of a new family, but that does not mean her previous ties are broken. A woman has a right to meet her family and friends whenever she feels the need to. Her husband should not have the authority to deny her this right.
We create this mindset in our daughters that their marriage is the most important thing in their lives. They must save their marriage whatever be the cost. Apparently, a woman must avoid the stigma of being a divorcee no matter what, even if it means living as a prisoner.
I recently went to a wedding where the priest presiding over the ceremony was explaining the seven promises that the husband and wife make to one another. Apparently, one of the promises is that the woman will visit her father’s home only if her husband allows her to do so. We all had a hearty laugh over this one, but I imagine it is strictly followed in some parts of our country.
In olden times, a daughter was referred to as ‘paraya dhan’ – wealth that belongs to someone else and is only kept in the care of the parents till such time that she is claimed by the rightful owner. The only part correct in this statement is the fact that a daughter is like a treasure, but she does not become someone else’s property. She remains a human with her own rights and needs.
Tushara’s death is a heinous crime and such an act must not go unpunished. The culprits behind her death must be bought to book. To prevent more such cases, we must let our daughters know that they will always have their homes, and parents that they can rely on. It is better to walk out of an abusive relationship than to suffer to meet some social standard.
Let’s ensure that no more daughters suffer from such a fate.
Image via Manorama News
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