In a patriarchal society, there are traditions in place that are societal evils. Despite the fact that they're widely accepted as wrong, most of them are still in place. After all, not a lot of people want to challenge the way society's been functioning and change how things work. Dowry happens to be one such thing that happens under the disguise of 'gifts for the welfare of the daughter' after she's married, even though in the eyes of law it is a punishable offence. However, there are people who aren't afraid to challenge societal norms and shake things up a bit. In this article, we're here to tell you all the inspiring dowry stories of people who refused to be a part of this archaic custom. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?
For the uninitiated, dowry is the transfer of paternal property and assets to the daughter at the time of her marriage. An ancient custom, dowry still continues to be a part of many societies, mainly in Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. Dowries are demanded as a condition to accept the bride's proposal and have, in a number of cases, resulted in violence against women including killings over the insufficient amount paid. It is justified by those demanding it on the terms that the bride will be residing with the groom's family after the wedding and it'll be an added expenditure, for which the groom's family demands 'security'.
Nobody can trace it back to when it started, but it initially used to be the girl's inheritance that was gifted to her at the time of her wedding because she was unable to inherit the father's property under Hindu Law. As the years progressed, it became less about the bride's father gifting her inheritance to her and more about the groom's family demanding gifts and property. The groom's family can also exert undue influence, as well as threaten to call off the wedding if their demands aren't met. It is important to remember that any gifts given willingly to the bride aren't called dowry, it is the term given to what is forcefully extracted from the bride and her family.
All the anti-dowry laws were consolidated under The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The legislation provides for a penalty in Section 3 if any person gives, takes or assists in giving or receiving of dowry. The punishment for the same is a fine of over Rs 15,000 or the value of the dowry received, whichever is higher or minimum imprisonment of 5 years. All dowry agreements are void ab initio and if the dowry is received by anyone other than the bride herself, it needs to be transferred to the woman. The burden of proving that an offence wasn't committed is on the persons charged of the crime and not the victim or her family.
Under Section 340B of the Indian Penal Code, dowry death was punishable by a minimum sentence of 7 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. It provided that if the death of a woman was caused by burns or bodily injury or under suspicious circumstances within 7 years of her marriage and if there is evidence to show that she was subjected to cruelty by her husband or his family regarding demands for dowry, then they will be held responsible for her death. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed in order to provide a civil law remedy for the protection of women from domestic violence in India. The Domestic Violence Act encompasses all forms of physical, economic and sexual abuse and is a part of The Dowry Prohibition Act to ensure that no women have to die in the name of this evil.
Komal Ganatra, a simple girl from Savarkundla, a small town in Gujarat, was brought up with much love and cared by her father, who wanted her to give the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. This may not be a big deal in today's day and age, but back in the 80s, it was quite progressive for a small town family. She was given the freedom to take her decisions and form her own opinions, which was contrary to her other female friends who had to follow the strict societal norms. She went on to complete her graduation in Sanskrit, Hindi and English Literature. However, as luck would have it, her marriage was fixed to an NRI from New Zealand, and for the sake of her in-laws, she gave up her aspirations to prepare of the UPSC.
Even though Komal was married into an educated family, her in-laws displayed no behaviour to support their educated background. Within 15 days of her wedding, she was asked to leave her in-laws' house because she refused to give in to their dowry demands. Her husband also left her for New Zealand, never to return again.
However, even though this braveheart could see no light at the end of the tunnel, she decided not to give up. She moved to a small village of Bhavnagar and took up the job of a government teacher, earning a meagre salary of Rs 5,000. Without the availability of phone, internet or course books, she decided to sit for her UPSC exams again.
In 2012, Komal bagged UPSC rank 591 and was one of the only few candidates to clear the exam in the third attempt. Today, Komal is posted at the Ministry of Defence as an Administrative Officer in Delhi.
Story Source: The Better India
What do you do when your father-in-law insists on giving dowry but it is absolutely against your belief system? You go green! A school teacher Saroj Kanta Biswal had been anti-dowry since his childhood but when societal norms forced him to take part in this custom, he had no solution but to accept it. However, he accepted it with a twist. He asked his father-in-law to give him 1,001 saplings which he and his bride then mutually donated to the villagers. He made sure there was no extra expenditure in fulfilling his demands, as he made sure no money was spent on frivolous things like DJ, baraat or crackers.
@Saroj Biswal tr. #Jagannath Bidyapitha,Coudakulat #Kendrapara married taking 1001 saplings as green dowry. No DJ, no firecrack, no procession. An acclaimed wedding needs to be felicitated by district, state and national level. pic.twitter.com/BGwM9tEOnj
— Gyana Jena (@gyanajena65) June 23, 2018
Story Source: Life Beyond Numbers
While women have been fighting this war for years now, it's refreshing to see the men take a stand for something they believe in whole-heartedly. Since the groom himself wasn't from a wealthy family, his parents were worried about making the arrangements for the wedding as well as the expenditure on jewellery and other gifts. In no mood to put the financial burden on the girl's family, Amit fought tooth and nail to have a small wedding without having the bride's side put under financial strain in a temple. What an inspiring story!
Story Source: Youth Ki Awaaz
CRPF sub-inspector was to get married around the time of the Pulwama attacks. The pain the nation suffered after the attacks, biggest after 2016 Uri attacks, and we all tried to help out as much as we could but Vikas' contribution cannot be ignored. In an effort to collect funds, he sent out his wedding card with a message that said - 'All cash gifted will be donated to CRPF funds.'
"Dowry is a common thing in our town. My father is also a government official, but when he got married he made sure that if his child will be a boy he will never take dowry. My father first thought that we'll say no to gifts at the wedding but he thought how will he stop people from getting gifts? So we decided to donate all the money in the Bharat Ke Veer fund. The wedding will take place in Bikaner and the reception will be in Sri Ganganagar where all the relatives would come and give money to me and my wife, Komal. We'll place a box where the guests can put all of their money and then the money will go to the District Collector and then to the Bharat Ke Veer fund." he said in an interview to a publication.
Story And Image Source: Indiatimes
This time it was the bride's father who did us proud! The father of the bride in Jodhpur, Rajasthan gifted an ambulance to his son-in-law on the wedding as dowry. Even though the groom was taken aback initially, he profusely thanked his father-in-law later, because this would do a whole lot of good for his village, which did not have easy access to a dispensary. The bride too was proud of her father who looked beyond the boundaries set by the society and did some good even under this archaic tradition.
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