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Friday, December 30, 2005

sisters and daughters for sale?

Are our sisters and daughters for sale? When will the horrors of dowry and bride-burning end?, asks Himendra Thakur June 1999:

Doesn't the love of one's country include love for one's countrymen? Or is it merely a fashionable thing, patriotism merely to find pride in something but not to actually strive towards a better nation? A country is her people. Years ago, Rabindranath Tagore summed it up as: Desh mrinmoy noi, desh chinmoy The country is not a chunk of earth: it is a saga of consciousness. Without the conscience of our people, this consciousness will fade. We must rouse ourselves to the daily indignities that surround us. There are a thousand places and ways we can begin loving the people of our nation, and I offer but one here. It is a journey that each of us can begin quite easily, because the victims of this malaise - dowry - are within reach, they are our mothers, sisters, friends, neighbors. People who we normally think of as "one of our own", who we ought to protect with our lives if necessary, and yet the normal course of things has fallen so low that indignities heaped on our women do little more than make us look away.

Geographical distribution of dowry deaths, 1994Source: National Crimes Bureau, Home Ministry

Andhra Pradesh - 396
Arunachal Pradesh - 0
Assam - 13
Bihar - 296
Goa - 0
Gujarat - 105
Haryana - 191
Himachal Pradesh - 4
Jammu & Kashmir - 1
Karnataka - 170
Kerala - 9
Madhya Pradesh - 354
Maharashtra - 519
Manipur - 0
Meghalaya - 0
Mizoram - 0
Nagaland - 2
Orissa - 169
Punjab - 117
Rajasthan - 298
Sikkim - 0
Tamilnadu - 83
Tripura - 6
Uttar Pradesh - 1977
West Bengal - 349
Andaman & Nicobar - 1
Chandigarh - 3
Dadra & Nagar Haveli - 0
Daman & Diu - 0
Delhi - 132
Lakshadweep - 0
Pondicherry - 4
Total - 5199

Let us begin, then, with the people whose suffering we have even ceased to notice, let alone empathize with. Let us begin with the women around us, those whose marriage through dowry we regard as normal when in fact it is apalling. Countless brides in India are constantly under harassment in their matrimonial homes because their fathers have fallen behind in the payment of endless dowry installments, or the dowry she did bring to her husband is regarded as too meagre.

Imagine the plight of a young woman, newly wed into an unfamiliar situation, and surrounded by those she has only just met, who regard her as a means to an end, little more than a device by which to enrich themselves. She knows only too well that a bride may be killed for lack of dowry ... she too must have heard the same stories we've all heard ... but she does not know what to do. She may have overheard her in-laws, even her own husband, talk casually about harassing her, and sometimes contemplate even killing her! the kind of fear that instills in a person is beyond our ability to comprehend. It isn't even fear, it is terror.

The cruelest aspect of this menace is the role that brides' parents play in perpetuating it. My inquiry at the Dowry Cell of New Delhi Police Department revealed that most of the parents of the bride do not want to take their daughters back. There is considerable social stigma in India against those parents who shelter a married daughter back in their family. In most of the cases, parents persuade the daughter to go back to her husband's home, that is considered to be the highest form of behavior one can learn from the old scriptures.

The alternative for the scared bride is to go to one of those government shelters. However, these shelters are controlled by unscrupulous bureaucrats and their politician bosses who are accused of taking full advantage of the helpless condition of the victims who come to the shelters. The reputation and working condition of most of the shelters are so horrible that a bride will prefer to die at the hands of her in-laws than to move one of those "shelters".
So, she stays in the house of her in-laws, resigned to her fate. Then, one evening, when she is working in the kitchen, someone throws a pail of kerosene on her, and someone else throws a burning match, and she turns into a ball of flames. Can she save herself by taking off her clothes ? There is no time. Petroleum products like kerosene or gasoline work very fast, aided by her own body heat. Once that splinter is thrown, there is no more chance of life.

Perhaps this sort of recital is gruesome, and we look away. We imagine that it cannot happen to anyone we know, that our education and money has raised us above these village truths. But that isn't so - we merely glamorize the slavery we perpetuate, and pretend to endow our daughters and sisters with "gifts". These aren't dowries, we tell ourselves, this is just to help her get a good start. Conveniently, we overlook the fact that there's more than one person getting married, we don't ask often enough why this good start mustn't come from both sides.
With these pretexts, we dismiss these as unimportant issues. And as we look away, an estimated 25,000 brides are killed or maimed every year in India over dowry disputes. Intellectuals pull out their calculator and say it is less than 0.003% of India's population. They slide into research mode and throw a vast array of statistics about atrocities on women in USA, UK, Pakistan, and many other countries of the world. Foundation owners refuse to help because there are so many other problems in India like street beggars, lepers, street children, bonded laborers, etc.

continue reading article ...

So, the brides keep on burning. Except, when she burns, the "problem" is one hundred percent hers, not 0.003%. She is NOT suffering from economic exploitation like bonded labor or economic deprivation like poverty : she is instead suffering from a very complex psychological set up in the minds of most of the people, the apathy of our times, and the stench of our unwillingness to eradicate dowry.

Many intellectuals do not like to talk about this subject. They open their speech with a presentation how India is doing very good in other fields like computers, space technology, etc., as if achievements in these fields can be used as excuses to burn the brides. A nation that trades in its people, sells its daughters into ready bondage, what words can describe these horrors? What kind of progress teaches us to ignore these problems, to pretend that these can never come past our doors?

One day, our daughters too will pass into slavery, and the jewel in our eyes will lead the wretched life we choose to look away from. When will it be enough? Himendra Thakur June 1999

Himendra Thakur is a founding member of the International Society against Dowry and Bride Burning in India, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt organization in the United States. He is currently Chairman of the Society's Board of Directors and Subcommittee on Fundraising.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Misuse of anti dowry Laws in India

Indians have always considered marriages to be sacred and resulting bond a 1000 year bond leading to satputhras (good progeny) and satkarya (good deeds)

However, readers should know the other side of Indian Marriages, especially the misuse of laws by Indian wives these days

Do you know that 1000s of innocent Indian men are being victimized by *the misuse of anti dowry law * - a particular Section 498A of Indian Penal code ?.

Many newly wed wives unable to adjust with their husbands, some who are unable to live in a new environment and even greedy Indian wives are known to file FALSE dowry cases against their husbands and In - Laws. They falsely accuse their husbands' of treating them with cruelty AND demanding dowry during marriage.

Since dowry is legally prohibited and severely punishable in India, many of these newly married men stand the gruesome prospect of being arrested and thrown into and Indian prison ... for years !!

The intention of these Indian wives of course is to settle scores or extract money from their in laws.

Once a dowry case is filed the Indian police are forced to arrest the husband and in some cases, even their un suspecting parents & sisters are arrested and jailed. Unable to bear the insult some have committed suicide.

As most of the male victims would be innocent and would not have EVEN stepped into a police station, let alone be arrested, they are forced to NEGOTIATE AND PAY these women

Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code is badly lacking the "..due process of law .." i.e. Under any normal legal process, an accused is considered innocent unless proven guilty. *However under Sec. 498A - I.P.C., the accused is immediately assumed to be guilty and has to loose liberty immediately....*

*There are 1000s of victims all over India*

It is reported that ".......In Andhra Pradesh (one of the Indian States), for example, a third of all the pending cases related to “atrocities on women” as on June 30 2005 are those under sections 498 and 498(A). In the first six months this year, 3801 new cases under just these two sections were instituted..........."

This is a smear on the image of India

Some courts are also aware of the miuse


Thursday September 29, 02:04 AM

HC restrains police on dowry complaints

By ChennaiOnline News Service

Chennai, Sept 28 (Chennaionline): The Madras High Court today restrained the city police from receiving complaints, investigating or filing chargesheets under the Dowry Protection Act 1961.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Markandey Katju and Justice A Kulasekharan issued the interim order on a PIL filed by a city lawyer, S V Ramamurthy, seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to engage the services of the Dowry Prohibition Officer (DPO) to receive complaints, investigate them and file chargesheets in keeping with the act.

Directing the police to refer complaints filed under the act to the DPO, they said the order will remain effective till disposal of the PIL.

If any reader here is about to get married to Indian women or if you are facing a difficult relationship with your Indian wife, please be aware. Take necessary precautions !!

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