I have never spoken about this on my blog. And with a lot of pain I do so now. As part of the VAWAM initiative, I was tweeting about Dowry Deaths and Bride Burning a couple of days back. I was researching cases and collecting facts, only to be left teary eyed. The truth remains; we do live in a barbaric society.
Almost two decades ago, back in Ranchi, one of our family friend’s daughter got married to a very nice guy from an equally nice family. Although quite older than me, I still remember her distinctly. She was very beautiful and very talented. She was the proverbial elder one in the circle and all the other kids, including me looked upto her trying to be like her. I remember attending her wedding. I remember how nice they looked together. I remember that she soon gave birth to a cute little girl and I remember that we had gone visiting her with lots of gifts.
And then, I also remember the phone call that came one fateful evening. And I remember my dad rushing out of the house along with my mom. She was in the hospital, with very severe burns. It was said that it was an accident that happened in the kitchen. The husband was out of the house, travelling on work to a different city. Only her in-laws were in the house. She was admitted with 90% burns and in 3 days she succumbed to her injuries. I remember her mom and dad’s faces. And I remember their eyes. It was said that it was an “accident” caused by the bursting of the gas cylinder. Obviously, everyone knew that wasn’t the case. She was gone after less than 2 years of being married. Finished for the lack of dowry and the inability to produce a grandson.
The husband was re-married soon. We heard that he got a fat dowry. Her little daughter is now a big girl. She has been brought up by her maternal grandparents, who didn’t press police charges against the in-laws. They were more concerned about the granddaughter. For them, who lost their only daughter, losing their granddaughter was not an option.
This is no stray case. Brides are still burnt in India often for not bringing in enough dowries, so that the young husband is available for re-marriage. The statistics are for all to see, blatant and hurtful. How and when will this end? Is education the answer or financial independence? How will a complete shift in mindset happen? We as a society are surely missing the point and how…