Dowry is an inhumane social practice that has been eating away the roots of morality for ages. A girl agrees to spend her entire life with an unknown man to respect her family beliefs and of course, as a part of our customs and traditions to get married. Life is already quite eventful for a girl and dowry adds a painful and burning spice to these events, which ultimately burns her life. In 2011, 12,000 cases were registered against attempt to murder because of dowry hunger in India. Every year an approximate 12% rise is seen in such reported cases. Unreported cases remain curtailed yet.
Here’s a painful true incidence proving the illicit crime of dowry a sin.
A woman named Uma had two daughters, Asha and Meenu. They belonged to the lower class and faced abject poverty. Uma lost her husband in an accident and after 3 years, she lost an arm and a leg in another accident. She was fortunate enough to have prosthetic limbs done. But life took its toll. She fixed Asha’s marriage with a conductor despite their dowry demand of Rs. 70000. She arranged Rs. 25000 and somehow got her married. Asha faced physical abuse and mental torture for nine months continuously without relief, but didn’t tell her mother, lest she feel bad. One day, she was sent back home to get money. She broke down in front of her mother and pleaded for money and respite from such suffering. Uma didn’t have money to save her daughter and instead of keeping Asha with her, she sent her back as it was in the order of indispensible for dignity of family and welfare of her second daughter. Asha had to respect her mother’s decision but this time things worsened. Uma received a call, one day. Asha is in hospital bearing burns all over her body due to some negligence in kitchen work. She rushed to the hospital kilometers away from their place. Asha was unconscious and had 95% burns. Her chances of survival were nil. They didn’t find Asha’s husband or any of their family members there. After repeated calls, they answered and said they were no longer interested in Asha and didn’t wish to pay her hospital bills. Uma had to arrange Rs. 40000 for her daughter’s treatment. She broke down and cursed herself for not seeing the signs of such havoc earlier. But now things couldn’t be reversed. She remembered, once a drop of boiling oil had flown onto Asha’s hand and a single boil on her hand caused her so much pain that she couldn’t sleep. Now Asha bore burns all over her body.
She realized that the need of the hour was to bring about a change. She stood up to get justice for her daughter. She knocked on the doors of nearby police station but there was another story waiting for her. Asha’s husband had already submitted a sheet which stated that “I, Asha in full consciousness say that I got burnt due to my own fault in the kitchen and it has no bearing upon my husband and his family” with her thumb impression. Uma smelled the conspiracy - she lost no time in saying that her daughter knew how to sign, and would not put in a thumb impression. Secondly, she was unconscious, so how would she have signed it? But the statement came before lodging any complaint, and the police didn’t agree to lodge her complaint. They wanted Asha to speak for herself now. Uma was completely shaken by the incident. A ray of hope appeared when there was some improvement in Asha’s condition. The Women’s Cell came forward to help her. Asha regained consciousness after 10 days and gave her statement; “While I was applying relief lotion over my physical abuse wounds from the previous night, my husband and his parents entered my room and latched it. They poured kerosene all over me like water and finally threw a lit match stick at me.” With enough evidence to arrest her in-laws, the Police took charge. But after two days, Asha’s condition deteriorated and she succumbed to her injuries.
Why does a girl have to sacrifice her life? Does a life of a woman stand for nothing? Dowry is do+ wry = doing any twisted and annoying thing. When the word doesn’t support itself and gives a negative shadow, how can we follow it blindly? Perceive the signs of dowry and take required action. Neither take nor give dowry. One cannot put a price tag on their children. Along with the moral teaching, educate children about insane social stigmas so as to eradicate such practices. Together we can make a difference.
Written by Aakshi Kalra