Ayesha suicide: Despite one death every hour, the menace of dowry persists

On February 25, Ayesha Banu, 24, a resident of Ahmedabad, recorded a video message earlier than she jumped into the Sabarmati river and ended her life. Ayesha mentioned she was going through harassment for dowry from her husband.

Every week earlier than, Rashika Agarwal, 25, fell to her death at her in-laws’ place in a fancy locality in Kolkata. Her household alleged that she was tortured by her husband and others, and that they’d given Rs 7 crore as dowry.

Tales of harassment and deaths over dowry reduce throughout class, monetary, instructional and non secular obstacles. Although dowry was made unlawful many years in the past, the crime remains to be not often reported to the police. The apply neither triggers mass outrage nor public conversations, until possibly when it has led to deaths, as has occurred in circumstances of Rashika and Ayesha.

An informal search on the web will throw up such numerous horrifying information items as these: In 2020, a 40-year-old man in Ahmedabad was arrested for sexually molesting his 14-year-old daughter and torturing his spouse for dowry; In 2019, a 27-year-old lady from Kerala was starved to death over dowry. Based on police, the lady was denied meals for 3 weeks, and weighed solely 20 kg at the time of her death; In 2014, one Neha Yadav was set on hearth by her in-laws and the 29-year-old succumbed to her accidents.

Normalised as “items to the bride”, the guidelines of the sport in the Indian marriages haven’t modified over the years.

Aishwarya, a former journalist, who acquired married to an IIT graduate not too long ago, says: “My mother and father gave Rs 14 lakh as dowry, apart from jewelry and a luxurious automotive. There was no protest, just a few muffled negotiations, when issues have been being finalised between the two households. I had no say. The very fact is, asking for and giving dowry stays covertly and overtly rampant in our society.”

Sheeba, a 30-year-old company worker, says some “items have been exchanged” in her marriage. In the seven years that she stayed married, her mother-in-law would taunt her every day. “She would say you’ve got include baggage full of your individual private stuff, par dowry mein toh kuch leke nahi aayi‘.”

Had she given them ‘dowry’, Sheeba thinks her inter-faith marriage would have lasted. “I really feel I might have been handled higher.” She walked out of the marriage when her husband began to abuse her bodily.

Based on the Nationwide Crime Information Bureau (NCRB) 2019 information for IPC circumstances, a lady turns into a sufferer of dowry death roughly every one hour. Moreover, she turns into a sufferer of cruelty by her husband or in-laws every 4 minutes. The Delhi Police web site mentions there have been 94 dowry-deaths final yr in the capital. Based on an earlier NCRB information, in 2010, India reported the highest quantity of dowry deaths with 8,391 circumstances.

Origins of dowry

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, defines dowry as the gifting away of any property or “useful safety” by folks “instantly or not directly” concerned in a wedding or “by mother and father of both celebration” in connection to the alliance. This, nevertheless, doesn’t embody dower or mahr during which case the Muslim Private Legislation (Shariat) applies to the folks concerned.

In her e book Dowry Homicide, celebrated historian Veena Talwar Oldenburg explores the root of this apply. “In precolonial India, dowry was not a “downside” however a assist for girls: a mark of their social standing and a security internet.”

The ghastly nature the apply has come to imagine could be traced again to the colonial instances when rights to personal lands have been sanctioned, subsequently making the Indian male “the dominant authorized topic”. Thus, sons have been most well-liked to daughters, largely in agrarian Punjab. “Sons have been the key to survival and prosperity in the relentlessly agrarian Punjab underneath the British,” Oldenburg writes, which in impact, raised their worth and infused a way of competitiveness of their wedding ceremony proposals. With the quantity of eligible males being handful, ‘moms of daughters knew {that a} good dowry was now the internet to safe “the catch.”’

“The concept that a groom’s household may make calls for slowly infiltrated different conventional gift-giving events re-served by mother and father for his or her married daughters and their kids.” This pattern grew to become worse and went on to be related to violence and suicide of brides.

Portrayal in cinema

In the 2014 movie 2 States — primarily based on Chetan Bhagat’s e book by the identical identify — the apply is alluded to in a brief sequence largely to ascertain the righteousness of the feminine lead. When at a marriage, Alia Bhatt’s Ananya finds out the groom’s household has demanded dowry, she launches right into a tirade. The occasion, nevertheless, is short-lived, the grotesque implication of the apply curtailed by the groom’s early realisation.

The difficulty is explored extra deftly in Made In Heaven, a 2019 collection centering round two wedding ceremony planners. Titled Worth of Love, the episode exhibits the impunity with which dowry is practised throughout class, with the bride strolling out of the wedding ceremony venue after the groom’s household demanded an enormous sum in dowry. In the Rajkumar Santoshi-directed Lajja (2001), a marriage sequence involves an finish with Mahima Chaudhry giving a convincing ‘say-no-to-dowry’ efficiency.

These cases of denouncing dowry in popular culture could also be encouraging, however they nonetheless fail approximating the morbidity it entails in actual life.

Preventing the menace

Nationwide Fee for Girls chairperson Rekha Sharma says. “Some folks don’t know it’s a crime. Secondly, households, as an alternative of stressing on schooling and monetary independence of ladies, simply give dowry, particularly relating to property — whose division should occur equally between little children. They suppose that by giving dowry, they’ve equalised it,” she tells indianexpress.com.

“There must be simplicity in marriages. If you end up spending in your daughters’ schooling, give them the alternative to earn their very own cash; that must be taught.”

Sharma explains the finest authorized course of motion can be to method the police. “Ought to they refuse to pay attention, there are our bodies like NCW that ought to be approached.”

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