“Rakhungi naino huzoor, Laado ko main dur na dungi
Bangla bhi dungi, aji Motor bhi dungi
Sona to dungi zaroor, Laado lo main dur na dungi”
My granny used to sing this song when she was overwhelmed with love for me; I would be sitting in her lap, thinking WOW! Someday I will get married, and granny would give me so many things, but not get me married far off. This is the psychology of most Indian parents. They are ready to shower the groom and his family in all the riches but want to see their daughter’s happiness at any cost. But sadly, more often than not, the exact opposite happens. Instead of buying her the love of her husband and in-laws, they buy her misery, torture, pain, exploitation, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.
Usually, when we hear any case of dowry killing, burning of newlywed brides, etc., we curse the in-laws, call them names, do some tut tut, and then sympathise with the girl’s parents. But has anyone ever thought that they are no less guilty and involved in her death than her in-laws? Yes, Indian parents often start to think daughter as a burden right from her birth (which often leads to infanticide) because they know that at the time of her marriage they will be expected to give a hefty amount as dowry, which means lifelong struggle and even after she is wed they won’t be free from financial pressure.
Parents often come to know that the groom’s party is greedy right before marriage but decide to fulfil their demands in the name of honour and custom. After marriage they again come to know that their daughter is being harassed by in-laws, and yet again they try to satisfy the greed of the son-in-law, telling the daughter to keep quiet as well, as things will get better with time. The final act of her murder is committed when she comes back to them, seeking shelter and refuge, but instead of letting her know that they are there for her and won’t let her suffer more, they send her back to her in-laws in the name of society and humiliation. The result; they lose their daughter forever.
If the same amount of money that was spent in her dowry was spent in her higher education that was denied to her, she might have lived and lived happily. In the form of education, they could have handed her the weapons to fight any exploitation. They could have made her a self-dependent, self-respecting and self-sufficient individual. But sadly no, the ultimate destination for any girl in India is marriage. In other words, if she is married, living in her husband’s house, has kids, she is HAPPY! No one bothers to know if her husband beats her, if her in-laws have turned her into maid without pay, if she is standing on the precipice of insanity or suicide.
A total of 24,771 dowry deaths has been reported in the country in past three years which means 22 deaths per day and nearly one dowry death every hour. And often she is given the most painful and gruesome death; she is burnt alive.
Would you believe me if I tell you that dowry originated to protect the women? Earlier in India the British Raj prohibited women from having any rights over property, it meant that all her inheritance from parents would be given to the husband, this was the way parents gave her, her dues. The girl’s parents would give her enough land, jewellery, etc. to enable her to have an income of her own as well as assets in times of adversity. Soon it took the form of greed from the groom’s side wherein the marriage became a financial deal instead of a relation.
Today the sacred union called marriage has been reduced to the mere financial transaction; it has become just another business deal where grooms are on display, and the bride’s parents are the purchasers. The higher the degree of the boy, the higher the dowry. But the sad part is, even after paying the asked price, the buyers make a lost deal.
Now if you come to hypocrisy, We are the most skilful hypocrites in the world. All of us are experts at practising virtue at a distance. On first encounter every boy’s father invariably remarks – ‘we don’t need anything. Whatever you give is your choice. It will be after all a gift to your daughter. The demand is never openly made. Someone from groom’s family will innocuously ask about items being given to the bride so that they will not purchase the same for the bride’s room in their house. “What will be the point in duplicating the purchase of a Television, fridge, washing machine, play station, double bed, dressing table, safe, decorative items, modular kitchen, car, etc.? It would be better if the monetary value of these items is calculated and cash is given to groom to purchase items of his liking.” It’s like a naming a ceremony, replace the word “Dowry” with “father’s gift to his daughter”.
For the sake of materialistic possessions, a woman is treated far worse than one would treat his animal. If I begin to tell you that in how many ways a woman is tortured, you will be amazed that god’s most beautiful creation is subjected to such inhumanity. They will do just about anything to vent out their anger on her, break her will, drive her to suicide, and if she is strong enough not to commit that sin, they incinerate her. Starvation, marital rape, imprisonment within the house, physical violence, denying her access to her children, taunting, demoralising, threatening, abusing them in front of people, suspending all social interaction and not allowing her to meet her parents.
The Indian penal court has clearly stated that giving and taking of dowry is a punishable crime under section 304B, that anybody found guilty of this crime will be convicted to punishment, whereas the cases of dowry death will be given minimum seven years of jail time to probably life time imprisonment. This custom is covertly but widely practised all over the country. In fact, it’s being consumed that this law might be altered as it is found that in 10% of cases, it’s being misused by women.
Marriage is the celebration of love. GREED has to be removed out of the equation. Let’s all take the Dowry Pledge.
1. If you happen to be a boy, DO NOT demand dowry. If your family happens to be the sorts who would, please make it clear that you do not wish to be part of something as lowly as THIS, in the name of tradition.
2. If you happen to be a girl, DO NOT agree to marry into a family that demands dowry. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘family demanding dowry’. The boy is the part of the family and if he wants he can put his foot down and disagree to any dowry being demanded from the girl’s side. If he isn’t doing that, show him the door. He is not worth it. If he can’t stand up for something right at this moment, he won’t play in the future as well.
3. If you happen to be the girl’s parents, DO NOT marry your daughters into a family that gives or takes dowry in any form. File a complaint against the family who makes a dowry demand – Ok. You have rejected the marriage proposal from the household who demanded dowry. Do not keep quiet. Your complaint may save an innocent from being harassed or burned to death.
4. If you happen to be the innocent onlooker, DO NOT be part of that wedding, boycott it. Say “I will not attend or support weddings where I am aware that dowry and extravagant gifts have been demanded and given.”
A father can give no bigger gift than his daughter, a piece of his heart.
Remember, Dowry Isn’t Gift!