Posted in Social Issues

I too want a Jaguar

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.”

Jai Hind!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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.

Posted in Criminal Law, Dowry, Marriage and family

Misuse of Section 498- A of Indian Penal Code: The Plight of Husbands and In-laws in India, What is the Solution?

Marriage of a daughter is very essential and inevitable in Indian society that the parents are put under extreme pressure to meet any feasible demand to get their daughters married. The practice of dowry popularly known as dahej or daj is a deep rooted in the Indian society.[1] The practice of dowry is not limited up to the marriage but it continues even after it which is the cause of various social evils. Dowry in itself is a practice which is the root cause of various social evils such as infliction of physical and mental cruelty on the brides for extraction of the dowry demands from her family. Taking into consideration the ill consequences of dowry and the high rates of dowry-related crimes in India, Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code was introduced as an amendment in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 by Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983. But in the last decade there have been cases where the women have misused this provision.

An observation and study over the misuse of dowry law was published in a reputed newspaper which stated that,

When a woman cries out foul, she isn’t always speaking up against the tyrannies of patriarchy. Sometimes, she is faking it, manipulating the law to cover up for her extortionist tactics.”[2]

The above statement, when applied and observed in recent cases, verifies to be true. The aim and the objective with which the provisions were introduced are misused vehemently by certain population of women, which in turn leads the woman in the actual tyranny into a disadvantageous position. A common observation has been established that women file a case over trivial fights and just for the sake of blackmailing the families.[3] If such fake cases are considered without taking due caution the intention with which the provision was enacted will lose its sanctity and will also bury the seeds in the society regarding the incapacity of the law and the presumption of the innocence of the women under this provision will be doubted, which will ultimately be disadvantageous to the women who are actually subjected to cruelty for meeting the demands of dowry.

The law is in place to protect the woman from the evils of dowry and it should be in place, giving away of this law will make women more vulnerable to the evils of dowry demands. Misuse of the provision has to be prevented and the women misusing these laws should be condemned, for which a law is needed, but what is more important is the conversation with the woman to extract the truth and a proper investigation to establish the demand of dowry and cruelty inflicted by the husband and his family. Due to the history of harassment of women and her family for meeting the dowry demands it is presumed that the statement given by the women while filing charges against her husband and in-laws is true, but since due to the misuse of provision it is important that the truth is established first before conviction of the husband and the in-laws accused under Section 498-A.

[1]Bert N Adams, Handbook of World Families, Sage Publications Inc.(California, UK), New Delhi, 2005. p.145.

[2]RadhikaOberoi, “How Fair is the Dowry Law?,” Times of India, Sep 8, 2008.

(Accessible at:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/How-fair-is-Dowry-Law/articleshow/3456467.cms) Last accessed on: 3rd Sept, 2016.

[3]Ibid

 

AUTHOR

Pooja Ogale