When asked about what she wanted to be one day?
Smiling she replied, an IAS officer.
Amazed and proud of a six year Old’s ambition, her mother wanted to know what inspired her.
All the pride and smile faded away when she said, “Because I too want a jaguar from my spouse’s family while getting married, just like Ramesh bhaiya (brother) got one.
Poor girl, did not even know that jaguars and other fascinating expensive gifts are no doubt given to an IAS officer, but only to a male IAS officer and that such gifts are given only from the bride’s family and veiled in the name of gifts (which are given happily by one’s choice) they are actually dowry (an obligatory requirement that has to be fulfilled by the bride’s family).
Dowry, a practice which is prohibited and punishable under The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is an offence according to the legislation but when it comes to reality it means much more than that.
It is not just a malpractice but a series, a set of emotions and varied expressions. It is a means for the bride’s family to show their gratitude to the groom’s family for sharing the burden of their daughter. It is a bribe to let in their daughter who no matter how qualified, always remains a burden. It is a custom, we are never going to let hold of. It is an opportunity for the rich to flaunt their wealth in almost all possible ways. It is a reason for the poor to suicide or marry his daughter to an incompatible groom.It is a source of revenue for all those who have a male child and a non-profitable, mandatory investment for all the houses cursed with a girl child.
It is so deep rooted in the Hindu marriage practice that even if a socially-spirited and aware family refuses to give dowry, the groom’s family is all set to rip their daughter apart. Sooner or later he who dares resent the dowry giving practice has to be ready to see his daughter suffer.
“Dowry greed leads, to heinous deeds.”
It isn’t that there are no laws. Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, provides that he who is found guilty if committing a dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, not less than seven years and that may extend to life imprisonment. Section 498A of the same code too prevents any woman from being subjected to cruelty by either her husband or a relative of her husband or both. Section 304 and 302 are also implicitly protective legislations in this respect.
“Take dowry, invite worry.”
There are much more both implicit and explicit laws for the post-marriage protection of a girl but how far people are aware of them? How far their awareness, gives them the courage to fight against the practice? How far justice is being served to them?
“Condemn dowry deaths, by not demanding dowry.”
I too am a girl, born Hindu, equally religious, equally respectful to our customs but also equally aware of my rights, equally conscious of my honour, equally demanding for my dignity. I too dream of getting married and being settled in life but I see no dowry in my dreams, I see no sacrifice for my parents and I see that I am still equally happy in my life.
“Several lives sacrificed for dowry, stop this sacrilege. Accept her with love. An educated bride is better than a billion currency. The bride herself is a dowry (if you are so greedy). Refuse dowry, diffuse dowry deaths. Be a man say no to dowry.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AISHWARYA HIMANSHU SINGH
Aishwarya Himanshu Singh is a final year law student. An aspiring researcher who has a deep love for writing. With her first publication at the age of 13, she believes a pen is mightier than the sword. Having authored more than 50 papers she is all set for the ‘writing for a change’ programme.