The Case of Dowry in India

No sooner did Prof. Nagendra open the door of his room than he slumped on the ground with a shriek of horror with a shriek of horror. Three girls, pretty, nubile and silently smiling were swinging to and fro in the air. They were the dead bodies of his loving daughters who could not bear his mortifications or not being able to marry them for the want of dowry. Never did Dr. Tandon imagine that his daughters would be strangulated to death for not bringing enough dowries before her bridal make-up could faint.

Dr. Sahib swooned, seeing the body of his charming daughter lying in cold embrace of death. When pt. Nityanand Shastri learnt that his newly wed daughter is languishing in misery, he immediately rushed with a fresh consignment of dowry but his daughter cried plaintively, “Father, have you also brought the coffin cloth with you? ”. Shastriji, known for his stoicism, showed the streaks of emotions for the first time. Tears were rolling down along his cheeks.

These gory events have not been taken from some crime stories but are the true tragedies in real life depicting graphically the evils of dowry system on society. It is an ivory that the dowry, which was originally given as gift of love in cash or kind to brides or grooms from the families of each other so that their dear ones could have a pleasant start in their new lives, has now become an anathema on cultures where it is prevalent. Now it stands virtually for the prize of groom in the marriage market.

The parents of groom openly specify the amount in cash, jewellery, clothes and other gadgets of luxury which the bride’s family would have to present them. The cost of dowry ranges between Rs. 50000 to a few lakhs in a middle class family not to speak of rich one and therefore in many cases such families are economically ruined. No qualms or no clemency is shown to the bride’s parents in accepting rather extorting dowry. Dowry system has made the lives of millions of people full of care and drudgery and relegated the girl-child to a much inferior position compared to her made counterpart.

There is an element of truth that a father of two or more daughters is regarded as an overloaded, unlucky and pitiable man because such persons often find themselves economically smashed and mentally wrecked in the end. They have neither time nor money to spare to enjoy good things of life because they have to earn and save every paise for the dowry. Corruption in public life is partly due to this system which forces a man to earn by hook or crook. Due to this system girls are considered as a burdensome liability and provided little or no opportunity to develop themselves even in enlightened families.

Abortion of a girl child after the sex test is a fall out it. The evil system is also responsible for the pathetic state of women in the society. Many girls have to remain unmarried and lead a life full of depression and despair. Unable to bear the rough and tumble of life alone their health is broken down and sometimes they commit suicide to get rid of their wretched existence, sometimes cute and really talented girls are betrothed to an old widower or a pauper because their parents are too poor to but suitable husband for them.

Instances abound when such girls are married to a blind or a lame or dumb or even a mad man. Such marriages are bound to end in disaster. There is no doubt that the system is subtly responsible to the perpetuation and growth of prostitution. It seems that there is some uncanny spells in seeking dowry because even the parents of morons, sluggards and jobless boys except a fat purse of it and exhibit their resentment when denied. Marriage parties return without marriage from the gate of wedding-pandal and sometimes brawls ensue culminating in the physical fight.

Relations between the two families are severed for life and the girl is allowed neither to visit, nor to meet nor even to talk to her parents. Girls become an eye-sore for their husbands and their families. They are constantly reproached, punished and tortured for minor lapses. The travails of these girls do not end here. Conspiracies are hatched, aided and abetted by their husbands to kill them by starving, beating, suffocating and burning and the culprits get scot free by projecting these cases as accidental deaths.

Obviously the law is helpless, and it is a small consolation that the criminals would be punished in the long run by the Almighty. Can human species flourish in such a polluted environment? The answer is “NO”. Therefore social organizations and specially youths take up cudgels on behalf of humanity. Sages also say that good are present where women are honoured. A dowry seeker must know that it is a vicious chain reaction, today it may charm but tomorrow it would grind him also. – Omkar Bhat

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