Dowry and Bride Burning

The evil of dowry, with the ever-growing demand by greedy parents of well-placed youth from the guardians of the bride, is assuming menacing proportions month by month.

Human greed knows no bounds. It is amazing that even well-educated parents of young men do not hesitate to resort to downright extortion, the victims of such avarice being helpless parents of newly married girls who are forced, by their mothers-in-low in particular, to bring more money and sophisticated consumer goods of various kinds. While the menace of dowry has existed for centuries, two new and ironical aspects of this problem call for special notice.

More than 1000 cases of young wives being burnt to death to are reported in the country every year! These include suicides. Brides are of course not for burning, whether they bring adequate dowry or not.

Those compile them to bring more and yet more dowry, as if the hapless, badly cornered girl’s parental homes are variable mints or gold mines, are human sharks who must be adequately punished.

The situation in this regard is especially deplorable in Delhi which has the dubious distinction of leading other cities of India in the mysterious deaths of young married women in middle-class homes.

Leading North India, other parts of the country are believed to be largely free from this evil of bride burning, though the practice of demanding and giving ample dowry to girls at the time of their marriage is widely prevalent there.

The dowry evil and bride burning have brought much disgrace to this country, foreigners ridicule us and wonder how along with the all-around economic and political progress of this country what is happening here.

Of course, there are specific laws against dowry and a heavy punishment is prescribed for those who demand or give dowry. But such laws are easily among the laws that are flagrantly flouted.

Thousands of 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 even after committing heinous crimes.

The number of women’s organizations in the country agitating against the dowry menace and staging demonstrations against the guilty people is not large, the active ones are confined to Delhi and Mumbai. The conscience needs to be awakened more on this issue effectively than has been done so far.