Introduction:In India, dowry (known as Dahej in Hindi) is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's family along with the bride. Generally they include cash, jewelry, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the newly-wed set up her home. Now the question is whether dowry is legal in India ? No. The payment of a dowry has been prohibited under The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).According to the statistics, every hour a women loses her life because of dowry in spite of the fact that its illegal. I still remember when I was 11 years, I once told my mom that I want a mother-in-law only in the pictures and not in real as the thought of having a mother in law scared me to death because of the picture I had in my mind about a mother-in-law was so scary. The reason behind was very evident as in my daily life I could see all the daughter-in-laws living a terrible life.
Real story# 1:
There was a very pretty girl Shivani who was my neighbor. She was so pretty and belonged to a very well off family. The day came when her parents choose another well off family and groom for her. She was as excited about her wedding day as every girl will be. Her parents spend some 5 million on her wedding including the dowry and the wedding arrangements and gave off their lovely daughter to her husband. Next morning when she got up her mother –in-law literally snatched all her jewelry from her saying that belongs to her. The husband didn’t uttered a word when all this was happening instead next day he thrashed her badly and raised hands on her asking her to go home and get more jewelry. She got a shock of her life and couldn’t understand what just happened and didn’t say anything to her parents. 1 month passed by like this. Then, she was pregnant and things became even worse as they wanted her to give birth to a baby boy which was obviously out of her control. They told her to get a sex determination test but she strongly refused for it and then she had to pay for it. They were living on top of a hill and it was winters when all this was going on and one night out of frustration her husband kicked on her stomach and kicked her out of the house at night 2 a.m. .She sat out there on a stone in such cold winter night whole night and cried out loud but there was nobody to listen to her except the night. That was the day she decided to tell her parents about it. The next day itself they came running to their daughter and try to talk out the matter and sort it out. They agreed to their terms and gave them more gold and cash but there is no end to greed. Only after a week after this again they started torturing her. It was the last she could take and came home the very next day. She gave birth to a baby boy at her parent’s place and when the family got to know that it’s a baby boy they send her a legal notice for divorce and claiming for the kid. The case went on for a year and she used to wake up all the night long with the kid, nurtured him with her own milk , love and affection. But the decision day came and the husband won it and took the baby from her as she was not financially strong at that time. How painful that moment was for her we can’t even imagine. Whoever came to that big fat Indian wedding would have never even thought of such a journey for this couple in their worst nightmare also.
Story of Shivani was just another story of a girl who still survived alive from this torturous life but not every girl in that situation ends up like that. Most of them will be either killed or they commit suicide succumbing to the torture.
Real story# 2:
Another lady who lived next to one of my uncles had a scariest end that I can personally never forget in my life. We were watching TV with our family when all of a sudden we all heard that our neighbor aunt was shouting out loudly and in pain. We all ran out to see that she was burning alive. Even today I just can’t get that picture off my mind ever. She burned herself in the backyard and her family who were in the same house nobody even came out. We ran off to her place and tried to save her but alas we could not as by the time we could extinguish the fire she was 80% burned. Uff , what is the word .. Speechless I am, I was. Reason? Dowry. She had 2 kids and 15 years of her marriage and single day of these 15 years there was a fire in her heart which nobody saw. Her kids saw from their window their mom burning alive but they could not do anything at all. God bless her soul. I still remember she was such a sweet lady to anybody and everybody that once you meet her and you will never forget her impression. This was an end to another big fat Indian wedding as even her parents spend some 3-4 million for her wedding and even more later to fulfill the dowry demands.
Sum up :In most of the states in India, the rates of dowry are unofficially pre decided depending upon the profession of the groom maximum can reach out to 5 to 10 million INR or even more. The story is not that more the money more your daughter will be happy. The basic foundation of marriage itself is not based on love , affection rather on the monetary and materialistic things. The sorrowful cases that I have mentioned are just two. We have even more horrifying cases that happened and are still happening. Many times the boys will get married for the dowry and will fly off to a different country and will never come back not even for divorce leaving the girl behind completely helpless on her own. Around 30 thousand girls in Punjab state in India are married to NRI but not yet living with their husband abroad and there is still no certain future too. One such girl that I personally know , went to live with her husband after 12 years of her wedding only to see that her husband was already living there with another woman and she has to stay with her under same roof. Marriages have become a business transaction in India. All that glitters is not gold.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.