Dowry and Bride-Burning
The evil of dowry, with the ever-growing demands by greedy parents of well-placed youth from the guardians of the bride, has assumed menacing proportions. Human greed knows no bounds. It is surprising that even well-educated parents of young men do not hesitate to resort to downright extorting the victims of such avarice being helpless parents of newly married girls who are pestered, by their mother-in-law in particular, to bring money and sophisticated consumer goods of various kinds.
Brides are burnt alive by mother-in-law acting in complicity with other members of the family of in -laws—sisters-in-law; brother-in-law and others. Nearly 900 cases of young wives being burnt to death are reported in the country every year. These include the suicides. Brides are a course not for burning whether they bring adequate dowry or not.
Those who compel them to bring more and yet more dowry, as if the helpless, badly cornered girls’ parental homes are veritable mints or gold-mines, are human sharks who must be adequately punished. Those who defend the practice of giving adequate dowry to daughters point to the fact that girls must have a share in their patents’ property; that they must be fully equipped to set up a home when they start a new life; that society would make derisive comments on the parents’ “miserly” habits if their daughter is not given various gifts, clothes, jewelry, T.V., furniture, a refrigerator, a scooter (or car) depending upon the social and economic status of the parents. It is also contended that dowry giving is an ancient practice for which there is indeed a case. Such people do, however deplore the increasing greed of the bride-groom and his parents, when they themselves become victims.
The dowry evil and bride-burning have brought much disgrace to this country; foreigners ridicule us and wonder how, along with all-round economic and political progress of this country, such callousness as the burning of women for their inability to yield to extortionist demands for dowry, is increasing. How can our people claim that India is among the leading democracies of the world ? We preach sermons on how others should behave while at home we indulge in practices that are disgraceful and unpardonable.
Hindu society suffers from several evils, and dowry is among the major ones. Who sort of country is this where there are “rates” fixed for getting well established bridegrooms-like IAS and PCS officers, doctors and engineers settled with in the country or abroad, the “price” of bride groom is increasing, just as the prices of everything else sold in the marketer going up, thanks to the inflation what goes up in this sphere seldom comes down.
Of course there are specific laws against dowry and heavy punishments fixed for those who demand or give dowry. But such laws are among those law that are easily and flagrantly flouted. Thousand (f cases of dowry extortion are reported every year, but very few people are punished. For lack of evidence most of the guilty people escape scot-free. Most stringent laws are planned, but laws on statute-book-any number of them —do not have a deterrent effect on the greedy people. Unfortunately, public opinion on this score has yet to before effective. Public opinion and social boycott of the offenders can go long way in checking the menace of dowry.