Dowry, the infamous ‘streedhan’ that women essentially have to carry to their groom’s place, has been more than a clot that flows smoothly into the veins of millions of Indians. Ironically this evil has led to the torture & murder of those, menfolk swear to love for the lifetime. The National Crime Records Bureau estimates that in India, at least one woman is sacrificed every 77 minutes at the altar of dowry related crime. Additionally, out of the 40 women that face crime everyday, almost 85% do so due to dowry. Despite the stringent law that are enacted to prevent the malaise, dowry deaths continue to haunt and torment India.
A survey of the middle-class ‘demands’ of grooms reveals that they have matched the best of times. From a scooter and a few thousand rupees previously, this has notched up to luxurious cars and flats today. Smart ways also have been found to circumnavigate the anti-dowry laws. Most of the times, these gifts are taken much in advance; and terms like ‘wilful gifts’ have been adopted to avoid confusion of any kind whatsoever. Worse, the Supreme Court’s recent judgment that ‘favours asked by grooms in the case of some financial stringency would not be considered dowry’ has definitely not gone down well with many critics. It has been alleged that the judgment would provide one more escape route for the perpetrators of these vicious crimes.
Frighteningly, women themselves – from mothers to other relatives – have been accomplices to dowry demands from prospective brides. For them, dowry becomes a powerful symbol of social prestige and recognition. Clearly, the political or the judicial interventions to correct this ill can only be successful if society accepts to change. Tough