Will Auction Of Girls Stop Before Dowry Death Swallows Every Bride?
She was the most gorgeous girl I ever saw - Fair complexion, light-skinned tone and possessing all the characteristics of an ideal girl which a boy desires for.
When I saw her for the first time, I was stunned by her beauty. Later, I realised she was Radhika, my best friend’s sister.
A few months later, Radhika got married to a person working in an MNC in Gurgaon. He was well-settled and fetching INR 2 lacs every month from his company.
I had just returned from a hectic tour of South India. I was away from home for 2 good months. My jam-packed schedule kept me away from calls and messages as I was constantly meeting one client after another and flying from one city to another city.
I arrived in Jaipur late at night so my parents didn’t wake me early in the morning the next day. It was about 10.30 AM when my phone rang.
‘Hello, yes Ayush’, I spoke.
‘Hardik, Anuj’s sister has died. Come to Apex Hospital now’, came the reply.
I was terrified to listen to it. Gathering all my courage, I rushed to the hospital, unaware of any possible incident that might have occurred during the course of the last 2 months.
‘Her husband set her on fire since she couldn’t ask mom & dad to give more dowry to the groom’s family’, Anuj later told me.
Radhika was sublimely beautiful but her husband preferred money and tangible assets over her. Irony laughed one more time that day!
How many times have we seen, heard or read an incident where a newly-wed bride is set on fire by her husband or in-laws just because she can’t ask for additional dowry from her parents?
‘Kitna laga sakte ho?’ (How much are you willing to spend?) is a common question asked during the initial discussion between the bride & groom’s families.
In spite of knowing that dowry is a punishable offence, families negotiate the dowry amount freely.
Once the marriage is accomplished, the bride is pressurised to ask for additional dowry from the family.
In most cases, instead of killing her, groom and his family mentally harass the bride. She is continuously tortured and taunted. The husband also threatens his wife for divorce if she doesn’t obey the instructions. Due to societal norms, the bride quietly bears the pressure which leads to severe depression.
What does the law speak about dowry deaths?
According to section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),
“where a bride is within 7 years of her marriage is killed and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband, or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called 'dowry death' and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.”
If you carefully observe the definition, you’ll find a major defect. For a person to be termed guilty as per this section, the crime has to be ‘proved’ or ‘shown’. However, many times, the crime isn’t proved since the murder or harassment is disguised as an accident, and the criminals escape easily.
Do you know the rate of ‘dowry deaths’ in India?
Every hour, at least one woman becomes a victim of ‘dowry death’, and the annual figures go well above 8,000 deaths. Most shockingly, several cases are not reported, and as per the experts, the actual death figures could well be 3 or 4 times the official statistics.
Overall, the cases related to harassment of the bride for dowry are continuously increasing in India in spite of ‘strict’ rules. The tradition is prevalent even in the upper castes and high classes of society.
Till the younger, educated people don’t come forward to say a strict no to dowry or any alike practice, we won’t be able to save the females from the demon of dowry death.
Through this article, I’ve detailed down the prevailing problem, factual information and underlying solution. I leave you with one question to answer yourself - Can we stop auction of girls before dowry death swallows every bride?