Change for Betterment
By: Burhan U Din Malik
The modern day society has been witnessing manifold increase in the rate of crimes that are reported on daily basis. One such crime which is so frequently in news is Dowry that leads to marginalizing, brutalizing, torturing as well as murder. It is an evil practice based on gender discrimination which is faced by a girl and her family at the onset of marriage. This discrimination is a centuries old menace which, despite legal as well as religious banishing, continues to be practiced even today.
Dowry is so common in our society that a large percentage of our population doesn’t even know that this is a crime and that there are legal consequences for it. So this crime is accepted as a normal practice even today and women are made to suffer unimaginable hardships due to this deviant practice. This is one of the basic causes of gender discrimination which leads to the idea of girl children being seen as burden on family.
From physiological disorders, to facing domestic violence to being driven to suicides and getting ghastly murdered, today’s women still faces the brunt of this menace.
Dowry related death is almost a daily occurrence in the country. One such case which became a national tragedy was that of a girl aged 24, a resident of Ahmedabad, who recorded a video message before committing suicide by jumping into the Sabarmati River. As per her recorded message, she took this extreme step as she was facing extreme harassment for dowry from her husband.
Recently, in Kashmir, there has been a surge in these cases as well. A woman from South Kashmir was allegedly burned alive by her husband and his family after she refused their dowry demands. Another case was reported from Bandipora where a woman allegedly died after committing suicide as her father alleged that she was being harassed by her in-laws for dowry. Also in Kashmir, there are so many rituals, customs and traditions in a marriage that amount to a lot of financial pressures on the bride’s family. This has unfortunately become a trend and dowry is seen as a wealthy show off in the society. It is exhibited in a room in such a way that each invited guest can see and compare. This system is actually creating a lot of problems in the society as poor of the society silently curse themselves as they are not able to keep up with this supposedly normal societal nuance.
Instead of spending money on daughter’s education and skills, parents start collecting money for their dowry hence depriving their daughter of quality education.
The number of dowry cases is peaking day by day. According to the statistics disclosed by National Crime Records Bureau, there has been a surge of 15% in the year 2021 as Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh registered a whopping 29,314 cases as crime against women including domestic violence, rape and dowry. These numbers signify the magnitude of atrocities committed in our society. Though Government of India passed an act on 20th May, 1961 which is known as ‘Dowry Prohibition Act’ under which legislation provides for a penalty under Section 3. The punishment for ‘proven guilty’ includes imprisonment for minimum 5 years and a fine of more than Rs 15,000 or the value of the dowry received. It’s time that Government amends this law and makes it more stringent with heavier fines and greater imprisonment. As was said by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru that “Legislation cannot, by itself, normally solve deep-rooted social problems. One has to approach them in other ways too, but legislation is necessary and essential, so that it may give that push and have that educative factor as well as the legal sanctions behind it which help public opinion to be given a certain shape.”
It’s very disheartening that, despite a deterrent law being in place, the society by and large still practices this menace with impunity. The real onus is on the society to end this menace and civil society needs to strongly advocate its perils. All religious, political and social leaders need to fight this heinous crime independently as well as in consortium.