Published: 05th July 2021
India, dial D to disrupt dowry: Why the society should raise its voice to say no to the practice
In light of a recent dowry-related death, The Coach tells us why we as a society should raise our collective voices and say no to dowry
It is estimated that there is one death every hour because of dowry-related incidents in our country, according to the most recent available statistics. As I’m writing this, there were two dowry deaths that were reported. Forget being harassed for a car, I’ve seen cases wherein the women have been harassed for a lot less — like a mobile phone. Why does this system continue to exist even now? In my opinion, the reason that it still exists is because we have allowed it to.
An arranged marriage today automatically implies a dowry, in most cases. Even if the word dowry isn’t used, there’s always the line of ‘What would you like from our end?’ or ‘What gift would you like us to give you?’ which isn’t any different. Most parents continue to succumb to this practice as they fear that their daughter(s) will not be taken care of or fear that she might not be given the love or respect that she deserves. But, if you ask me, why give your daughter’s hand in marriage to someone like that in the first place? How do we prevent this? It simply isn’t possible without the support of parents all over. Hence, I request all the parents out there to make their daughters self-sufficient and independent financially. For this, you need to educate them from the beginning and make them aware of how important a career is. Encourage them to study and prepare them in such a way that they needn’t depend on anyone in the future. Make them aware of the legal framework and their rights.
As parents, be firm and say no to dowry. If a man expects something in return to take care of your daughter, he isn’t fit to take care of your princess, but is rather like sending her to a hostel, isn’t it? I know this might come as a shock to parents, but trust your daughters and if they find someone who loves them, verify it, ensure that it’s genuine, vet the boy and then support their decision. That’s when the point of dowry will never come up as the boy will just want to spend the rest of his life with your daughter and that’s all that matters, period! What does one do when they are being harassed for dowry? The first course of action I always suggest is to escape from the toxic environment. Somehow make up an excuse and do your best to reach a place that’s safe and secure. It might be your parent’s house, relatives’ place or that of a friend. Always remember that you’re not a commodity and use your best judgement to artfully avoid confrontation or conflict until you’re in a secure location.
Bottling up? A strict no! One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen women make is to bottle up their feelings and remain mum about their abuse. I’ve also seen some perceiving it to not be a serious issue and take action in the future if things escalate. Please remember to act at the first instance of dowry harassment as things will only get worse going forward. Take the legal route, but lodging a complaint in the local police station is very important as it’ll help your case going forward. But ensure that you use all the influence you and/or your family has, to ensure that the case is followed through. Ensure that you consult a good lawyer. Be prepared to break it off as there are no second chances when it comes to abuse. I’ll sign off with this quote — If a man expects something materialistic in return, to get married to a girl, then he’s not understanding the sanctity behind the girl leaving behind everything to spend the rest of her life with him. Such a man deserves nothing!
Adarsh Benakappa Basavaraj