Usha
10.8.07:
Mysore,India.

A 22 year old woman suffered severe burns when her husband forced her to drink acid and when she refused, he disrobed her and threw acid on her.
He had been harrassing her with dowry demands for several years now. Earlier when his demand for motorcycle was not met, he tonsured her head and paraded her in the neighbourhood.
The report here says that the “police said Fairoz, a scooter mechanic, married Fathima about nine years ago and the couple have four children, two male and two female”.
Married at 13,the poor girl has seen all there is to see in one lifetime of misery. And from what the doctors say, she may never see again with her eyes.

9.8.07:
The family who iron our clothes was missing for a week and finally the lady came today to collect my clothes. I asked her where she had been. The family had been away to her village where her husband’s niece had died. They had got her married three months ago and by the month of ashada (aadi in Tamil) an instalment of dowry was due. The parents could not meet it and so the in-laws and husband drove her to suicide by hanging.
I asked her if they had lodged a police complaint. There were 2 reasons why they could not.
1. The girl was just 17 and should not have been legally married.
2.The in-laws had powerful connections and had got the death certified as natural.

31.07.07
Here is an excerpt from this report in Businessweek:

“Last year, Singh's grandson Abhijeet married Priyanka Singh, the daughter of a businessman in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. But within months the couple split and Priyanka returned to her parents home, alleging that she had been physically abused.”
"My daughter was tortured and beaten up black and blue by her husband and in-laws who used her to demand more dowry. They were asking for a Mercedes Benz car and a flat in New Delhi," Madhvendra Singh, the bride's father, told The Associated Press from Moradabad, 185 miles southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

All in a matter of 10 days, cutting across caste, religion, social and linguistic barriers.
Why are 13 year olds and 17 year olds getting married and bearing children when they rightfully belong in schools?
How much perception is needed to see that a guy who expects his prospective bride to bring cash and a scooter for him can be good for nothing?
Where can the poor girls go when even their own parents treat them as a burden to be offloaded to someone as soon as the opportunity arises?
If daughters cannot rely on their parents to do what is best for them, where can children go?
If parents cannot take care of their children, why do they have them?
What is the use of having laws if there is no effective implementation?
How many more women must die before these people become human?
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23 Responses
  1. Hip Grandma Says:

    Depressing and no solution in sight.Even communities where no dowry is demanded or offered this menace has creeped in.educating girls us a way to curb this but it may also help to edducate parents that marriage of a girl is thr ultimate and sole objective,and if they collectively refuse to give cash or kind as dowry the boy wikk have to come down.But we have examples of people grabbing eligible bachelors by offering more money and the highest bidder wins.


  2. rads Says:

    oh God. Just boils my blood to see such idiocies in this day and age..


  3. And the saga continues...it ahs passed that point where I just sit and wince or feel enraged..time for action has come and i do not know where to start...but I know I have to start something..we all do...maybe we cud start with the parents of the girl child....


  4. Usha wrote:
    "If daughters cannot rely on their parents to do what is best for them, where can [children] go? If parents cannot take care of their children, why do they have them?"

    In the context of mate selection, daughters should not rely on their parents to do what is best for them, and parents should not be taking care of what is strictly their children's business.

    This may seem counter intuitive, but as parents, let's begin by washing our hands completely of our children's marriage. Let's restore to our children, especially our daughters, their inalienable right to select their mates. Completely, unequivocally. No if's and but's! The kanniga is not a property of her father to be given away as dhanam to a nincompoop who happens to have the planets and the stars in the right position at the right time.

    p.s. I am out of the loop. My daughter is happily married to her college senior. Neither my wife, nor I, had anything to do with it - not even the expenses. With the pleasant exception of both of us walking the aisle with her. Really :)


  5. Devaki Says:

    I think education and financial independence for girls is the only solution out of this problem. Girls can then stand up for their own rights rather than expect wisdom from parents, husbands or in-laws.

    Usha, I also wanted to reply to your comments on my blog but didn't know how to, so ended up hogging this space. Its nice to know women on both sides of the saas-bahu divide share the same opinion, more power to folks like us! And first or not, your comments were most most welcome...


  6. this issue needed to be raised,daughters are not commodities for trade,...i've been joking around with the idea of being the reluctant wedding guest, but this is something more sinister,..parents should realise that marriage is not the be all and end all in life,the nicompoop's/slime that "children"are forced to marry should not be tolerated,educate your daughters and they can fend for themselves,and you,if that is why you marry them off,financial stability,(it's a joke)more like modern day slave trade.


  7. Usha Says:

    Hipgran:I keep wondering what Bharathi might have suggested if he saw this:
    1. Perhaps he would have said "let us burn all marriage halls and have schools there?"
    If only marriage was not so glorified
    in our films and by society.
    If only women had a little more confidence in themselves to say they did not want anyone else to support them but wanted to stand on their own two feet first and then think of marriage and children...
    If only there was a major social revolution...
    if only justice was a little more accessible and punished dowry cases severely so it is a lesson to others who dare..

    rads:It does it does.

    Random:Parents of the girl child should stop thinking of her marriage as their only responsibility - In stead if thion as their responsibility and then leave the rest to the girls themselves - that would be a good start.

    The RF: When I said "rely upon" I did not think of mate selection. I meant what is good for them in their life. Education is what the parents should have given the girl in stead they get her married - she is still a child and expects that her parents kn ow what is good for her. But they have badly let her down.
    Re marriage I am of the same views as you - I believe that it isn't the business of anyone other than the boy and the girl.In fact I am already at the receiving end for doing just that with my son.

    Devaki:Yes, education,financial independence and the deglamourising of marriage ( it isn't at all like they show in the films)

    Rouhana:My sentiments exactly. :)


  8. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Usha

    I have been reading this piece about Fathima in the papers. It is really so sad and frustrating to know that someone could dare to do such a thing to one's own wife. How cruel can one be? I also feel so much for the girl who returned to her home and then got compelled by her in-laws request to come back to her home for the sake of the kids. So heart-wrenching to think of the pain this young girl is going through and now she is not even capable of being there for her kids which is what she probably cared about in the first place.

    -Shree


  9. Anonymous Says:

    Previous comment was from me - i meant to say that she came to her parents' place and then returned to stay with her husband after being persuaded by her in-laws.

    -Shree


  10. WhatsInAName Says:

    Very depressing indeed.

    On a different note, this post reminds me of my maids daughter who is appx 14 or 15. She refused to go to school, even though I was offering to pay for it. 2 months back, I heard she got pregnant - by the guy who she was supposed to get married to! I wonder what future has in store for her, but this time she is to take the blame upon herself.
    My maid keeps asking for money from me every month - for 1 of her 3 daughters!
    I feel so miserable seeing her.
    Sometimes I wonder, are we really progressing as a nation? Poor are getting poorer and rich, richer and its money which is the evil force behind all these crimes against women or otherwise.
    Education and employment - these might help reduce them.


  11. if i were poor and uneducated and married illegally... and my parents considered me a burden and my inlaws wanted dowry - i'd see hanging myself as the best and most pleasant option. God bless their souls.


  12. You remember my post on my maid Muruga, whose prosp. groom asked for a two-wheeler and gold.... she finally didn't marry him, cos she found he already had another wife,from whom he was apparently'separated'..
    And THIS guy had the temerity to ask for dowry from a very eligible girl on all counts.
    And after all this, her family says she's going through some bad times, starwise.
    Why why why do people persist in being so mulishly blind?


  13. Mahadevan Says:

    It cuts across social status, castes and religions. A bride is burnt by her husband and in- laws. A girl who spurns the advances of a man she does not want to marry, is stabbed on the street during day time and succumbs to her injuries. Acids are thrown on the faces of college girls on the streets. A writer Taslima is abused, physically threatened and fatwas are issued. Civil Society and pseudo secularists look the other way. Want of resources or education is not the reason. Lack of basic human feelings and lack of emotive intelligence mislead us.

    A recent Supreme Court judgement says, 'a crime committed in passion deserves lesser punishment'. Does the syllogism 'Man is a Rational Animal' a logical absurdity?


  14. Mahadevan Says:

    In the penaltimate line, please read the words ' Is the Syllogism' instead of 'Does the syllogism'


  15. Balaji Says:

    There are a few things that I hate...and dowry is one of them. You are correct in telling that if someone demands a car, a bike or a house to marry, he is not good enough to be married off. There is no stoppage of wishes right...And the guy is not doing any favours by marrying....That is sad...

    Unless we have strict implementation of dowry related laws, these things will happen and will happen with much more regularity. It is a bad propect but true nevertheless.


  16. here,here,..i do believe that the dowry system should be made illegal.further the parents of fairoze should be jailed as the nincompoops kept on sending her back.


  17. So depressing, Usha!
    I cant imagine how these people, who drive their wives, daughters-in-law to suicide live with themselves. Dont they know, about karma? Havent they heard about God? Dont they fear his retribution?
    I guess not.


  18. DotMom Says:

    One more drop in the sea. Its hard to change attitudes. Not that it can't be done, but takes generations. How about helplines, shelters that are more accessible? Where the women will truly feel safe and can be trained to stand on their own two feet. Atleast, they won't be driven to suicide and knowing other like them will also provide a network..


  19. Couple of years ago we got to hear of a piece of news that shocked us. One of my B.TECH classmates, who went onto become a IAS officer(based on scheduled caste reasons and not merit) and married another IAS Officer, was charged with harassing his wife for dowry. It was too painful to hear this - a person who has been educated in a premier institute and holding one of the most high government positions was behaving in this manner for mere money! If Educated and sophisticated people themselves behave in this manner, then what can we expect from illiterate low class folks ?


  20. dipali Says:

    Truly depressing. I like RF's POV- of marriage being the concern of the two people involved. When does that become the norm in our beloved Bharat? Families of youngsters who dare fall in love and marry across caste barriers are still lynched.
    If only marriages were about them being the greatest single rite de passage two people can undergo, rather than ostentatious tamashas....


  21. Vaish Says:

    Laila and Mariam's lives in our midst. :(

    It's a sad, sad world, Ush.


  22. Usha Says:

    Shree: The unfortunate thing is that there are many more who do not get media space. This goes on at various levels and is nicely hushed up - Our women need to learn to have the courage to rise against these abuses - but they can do that only with education and financial independence.

    WIN:I see it with all the maids in the neighbourhood and I have the same depressing thoughts. Even though they live in the same modern cities as us, once they go back to their neighbourhood their society lives with some very stupid traditions and beliefs and it is a very male dominated system there in spite of the fact it is the women who work harder and it is the men who drink it all away.

    The MM: True. There are schemes to uplift them, we have laws telling them certain practices are wrong and yet none of these makes a difference to their lives shrouded in ignorance, illiteracy and poverty. Poor souls.

    JLT:Actually people like Muruga are few in that startum of socirty. A vast majority is like my presswala's family and there is a powerful system that works to keep them that way.

    mahadevan:Yes, yes, and yes. It is extremely depressing.
    I am surprised at the supreme court judgement - aren't most heinous crimes committed when passion takes precedence over reason ? What did they mean?

    Balaji: I agree that our anti dowry laws,schemes for education for all and child marriage acts should be implemented more sincerely and effectively.

    Rouhana:Ya, what kind of parents are those that kept compounding their miostake by sending her back into that hell?

    Dipali: yes, time we trusted our children to choose their partners and concentrated our efforts on giving them the solid foundation to make them intelligent or at least informed human beings.

    Vaish: I agree totally with the analogy Vaish. It IS a very sad world dear.


  23. A.R.Malik Says:

    http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec11941/008.htm