Marriages are seldom an affair between two people in India, rather involve two large families, their bits and want, frequently ending up with age-old customs and malice, which often pose a threat to the marriage itself.
Well, let us now meet, the antihero, whose doing, in this context most usually leads to a disconcerted life, time and again involving domestic violence and occasionally death.
Yes, you heard it right-death of the bride is the recent common trend in India, every so often in the name of DOWRY, the breath and blood of modern India.
Paying and accepting dowry is a centuries-old practice in South Asia involving the transfer of a huge chunk of money, in the form of gold, land/property and vehicle from the bride’s parents to the groom and these have become a substantial portion of the modern Indian household, perpetually illustrating the life of an Indian girl child as “an unaffordable economic burden of India”, contributing its share to the never-ending sex-selective abortions/ female infanticide in India.
Although identified as a social evil, in the pre-independent era itself, dowry and dowry-related violence still remain deeply rooted in the veins of the Indian subcontinent, transforming the institution of marriage into yet another commercial transaction, where generating money is a lot simpler.
According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), at least one in every five married women in India suffers domestic abuse since the age of fifteen. And the most commonly reported violence includes harsh language (80%), physical abuse (63%), involving beating, kicking, striking etc. and forcing them back to their family home (52%).
And what is more astonishing is that all of these occur amidst the existence of several laws pertaining to dowry including:
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, is the first National Regulation dealing with the dowry.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860, states dowry-related violence, is a criminal offence.
- Indian evidence Act, 1872, which takes into account the nature of offences.
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973that requires the police to send the body of a deceased woman for post-mortem investigation, if death happened within seven years of marriage.
From the above data, it is evident that raising the social consciousness of the population might be the only way to eradicate this social scourge from society.
Perpetual greed, patriarchal norms, male-dominated society, desire to flaunt social status, a false sense of prestige, lack of formal education and ignorance are the primary reasons for this public sin, that has murdered and disabled countless vulnerable women, forcing them to commit suicide.
Married at 26, it took me several years to find a man who recognized dowry as a social evil and stood up to say a solid NO to it, before which I was rejected by a dozen guys in the name of ‘The Great Indian Dowry’ and by another couple of dozens, unwilling to take a stand, out loud, of course secretly desiring to toss me around as a mere commodity. This is my story, also the story of every other woman in India.
“Any young man, who makes dowry, a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonours womanhood.”-Mahatma Gandhi.
Husna Zakariyya is an anti-CAA anti-NRC activist from Kerala who is working for the Dalit/minority rights in India. She has worked as part of The Shaheen Bagh Solidarity Protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Thiruvananthapuram as a media coordinator. She is an aspiring writer and journalist, who holds a postgraduate degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Kerala and also has an advanced diploma in TV News Journalism and a PG diploma in Print Journalism from the Institute of Journalism, Press Club, Thiruvananthapuram. She has written many papers addressing discrimination, racism and oppression of women. She is often outspoken against patriarchal norms and is keen to bring the unheard voices of women and minorities to the forefront.