Kerala Doctor’s Dowry Death Is Murder By The ‘Tradition’ Of Dowry!

Kerala doctor's dowry death once again highlights this cancer of society. How long will our daughters face this and lose their precious lives?!

Trigger Warning: This deals with dowry harassment and suicide, and may be triggering for survivors.

In some recent heartbreaking news, a twenty-six-year-old post-graduate student at Trivandrum Medical College, Dr. Shahana, took her life. Her suicide note read: ‘Everyone wants money only.’ 

While the case is being investigated, relatives claim that this young woman took such a drastic step because her wedding talks were called off. Dr. Shahana was in a relationship with a senior, Dr. E.A. Ruwais, and wanted to get married to him. Dr. Ruwais’s family demanded 150 sovereigns gold, 15 acres of land, and a BMW car as dowry. Dr. Shahana’s father had passed away a few years ago, and her mother planned to sell off some land, but she still could not match the exorbitant demands. 

Dr. Ruwais stood by his family, and eventually backed out of the wedding when it was evident that the girl’s side would not be able to arrange for the dowry. He then blocked Dr. Shahana, pushing her into depression.

Dr. Ruwais has now been suspended by the Medical College and the Police have arrested and charged him with abetment to suicide under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The Kerala State Women’s Commission has ordered a probe. The latest update is that the investigation is underway.

It is gutting that someone as accomplished as a medical student studying in a prestigious medical college fell victim to this societal bane called dowry. Couldn’t she have walked away and shown his family the door? Couldn’t he have stood up for her? 

Despite the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, dowry is very much prevalent in every stratum in direct and indirect forms. While the practice itself may be illegal, the issue lies in the greys, like the gold worn by the bride, the car that is gifted to the groom, or a flat that is a gift to the couple. As long as these are ambiguous areas, there will be expectations and pressure.

Whose approval are we seeking? Does a grand wedding guarantee a couple’s happiness?

Marriages are getting grander, and evolving into avenues that splurge and engage in lavish extremes. What should be a celebration of a union of hearts, a coming together of families, is now an avenue to show off status. The longer the guest list, the grander the venue, the more the family’s prestige. Many a time, it is the girl’s family that bears the onus of the costs while organizing the wedding. When marriage should be an equal partnership, why can’t all things be equal?

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I have much respect for the families that opt for simple, intimate, ceremonies like this bride who refused to be gold-plated, or join hands to feed an orphanage or plant trees. To each his own; if you have the means, then go ahead. But vulgar splurges of wealth and moving mountains for extravaganzas are meaningless.

Parents, a dead daughter is NOT better than a divorced or disgraced one 

Teach your daughters that self-respect comes first. More than household chores, teach her self-preservation skills. Equip her with courage. A broken relationship isn’t the end of the world. Tell her you will be there for her, no matter what. No problem is too big to be unsolved.

If he can’t realize your worth and see you for who you are, he isn’t worth it. If he doesn’t stand up for you now, how is he going to stand up for you later? Tell her not to be afraid to walk away from toxic relationships.

Teach your son self-respect. Ask him to look for an equal partner. Want a BMW? Earn it yourself, not live off someone else’s life savings. Remind him that someone has entrusted their daughter to you, and you must be a good husband to her. Period.

The National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB, reports that 35,493 brides died because of dowry between 2017 and 2021. Uthara, Vismaya, Shahana…..these aren’t just names. These are women with families; families devastated by the loss of their precious daughters, daughters lovingly raised and educated. We, the mute spectators, will light candles, hold vigils, write articles, and express outrage. And then, life goes on.

Tonight, somewhere, a mother is sobbing that she will never be able to see her daughter again. If that thought doesn’t stir our conscience and spur us to renounce this scourge called dowry, nothing will.

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About the Author

Lalitha Ramanathan

Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...

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