When Pushpa, from Varanasi, got married, her family gave everything they could, but soon she was asked to leave, as the dowry demand was not met.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was enforced all over the country but taking and giving dowry is still a nationwide phenomenon. Items like jewelry, cars, two-wheelers, money, traditionally given the bride’s family to the groom’s family might look like an Indian tradition, but in most of the cases, it results in extreme torture, murder, female homicide, and even suicide.
Pushpa, a newly married, from Kohasi village, Varanasi, faced numerous threats and demands for dowry. She was threatened by her in-laws because her family could not afford to give the dowry they demanded. As soon as she moved to her husband’s home, they started demanding for a gold chain, a gold ring and a cash of Rs 50,000 as dowry. “From the time I went there, they kept beating me, harassing me and asking for dowry. They don’t let me sit, eat or sleep in peace. They don’t even give me food”, said Pushpa.
There has been a persistent rise in the incidents of dowry marriages. The constant threats and harassment the bride’s family has to go through has gone up. According to the available data of National Crime Records Bureau, in India, every year 7,621 women are killed because of dowry and it continues to be a matter of concern. They are either burnt alive or are forced to commit suicide in dowry cases.
In Pushpa’s case, her family is helpless. Belonging to a poor family, her father gave his entire life savings and all he could give in order to get Pushpa married. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Pushpa was dragged and pushed out of the house when her parents were unable to meet their dowry demands. “We have given whatever we could afford. If I don’t have anything, what will I give?”, said Moolchand, Pushpa’s father.
Now, Pushpa is scared to go back because she is not sure about any further consequences that she might face at her in-law’s and is staying with her parents.
In India, every day 20 girls are killed for dowry. In today’s inflation, women continue to pay the price in the name of marriage, custom, and tradition. What are we getting in return? Gender inequality, discrimination, and cynical stereotypes, and worse, dowry deaths.
Video by Community Correspondent Shabnam Begum
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a Member of VV Editorial Team.