Few days back I happened to bump into Satyamev Jayate; a talk show hosted by Aamir Khan, mainly about social issues pertaining to today’s society where he systematically analysis the problem and tries to come with a solution. The particular video I found was relating to dowry where the once married, emotionally abused and divorced girl narrates her tale about how she landed in a greedy yet extremely well off family.
This broke a stereotype that I had held for so long about dowry to be only craved by poorer sections of Indian society. I was still in shock of how an educated woman of today could end up living with a man who was blackmailing her with divorce threats just so she could force her parents into fulfilling the extravagant and irrational demands of their son-in-law.
I may not have learned anything from life but one and that is
“Do not ever give in to the irrational demands of your son-in-law or his family thinking it would reduce friction.”
You better be prepared for some further demands.
Now coming back to what further hung me into space is a tale coming from a very close friend of mine. The boy who fell for her was her colleague of four years. Apparently it seemed a love marriage but with time the real motives dawned upon her.
The signs of his family’s greed were apparent from the day their families started interacting but the girl was so overwhelmed with all the big day emotions that she failed to sense the obvious anomalies.
When choosing a dress for him the guy took girl’s father to the most expensive brand in town. On wedding night he lamented about how bankrupt he is just so he could make her divulge what her family is giving her as dowry. Later he took all her dowry money and refused any pocket money which further exacerbated the situation.
The girl proposed working again to gain financial independence but the proposal was accepted on one condition and that is she would transfer all her earnings in his account so that he would make sure she does not waste money on trivial things like.
- Eating out
- Gifts for family and friends
Now it’s been four years since she is living that miserable, shitty life. The torture about bringing in less dowry than expected is something she still conceals from her family.
The fault lies not solely with her but with the society as a whole that has stigmatized divorces and Khulas so much that a large proportion of married women go through domestic and emotional abuse almost every day of their married life.
This patriarchal thinking of men that being the sole breadwinners of the family justifies their absolute authority on decision making on issues like whether women should work or not is paralyzing the entire financial status of a family.
After working for like six to nine hours a day they hardly fulfill the demands of a huge household which includes brothers, sisters, parents, wife and kids. By keeping spouses bound in kitchen they tend to fulfill the following purposes.
- Keep her perfecting the art of gol roti in kitchen
- Keeping her under pressure so that she abstains from putting extravagant demands like going to parlor, meeting family and friends once in a while
- Be the lord of the family
- The most obedient son to parents who trivializes her not just in front of his parents but before his siblings too.
After fulfilling all these motives from the women it’s just not enough. The rest is expected from her parents to compensate. This is done in different forms and I will share the ones my friends and acquaintances encountered.
- Put the demand of dowry right after the wedding date is finalized and made public. This is a category of people without any shame.
- The second category is of the less shameful people who do not ask for anything with their mouth but create situations and give hints and signals like “Did you see the dowry my neighbour’s bahu brought?” These people can emotionally abuse the women to vent out their frustration for not furnishing their house.
- The third category is of the people who do not expect anything from the girl’s family. Yes! Good people still do exist in this world.
The only solution to this dilemma is equipping the girl with enough self confidence, education and skills that if at any time she is blackmailed she can fight back without the fear of “oh what will happen if my husband abandons me?” Strength comes only when one is thrown into the hardest of the circumstances.
When I was doing my bachelors a large number of my class fellows got engaged or married. It did put me into depression for a while as my parents talked mostly about which course I was going to take next. For time being I felt left out, worried that my ripe years were going to be wasted under books; but now that I am married and have kids I believe, if I am to survive on my own I can thrive.
The crux of the matter is marrying off your daughter at a ripe age should not be the priority rather her financial indendence. Do not marry in a rush; drag the relationship for some time and get to know the people with whom you are going to share your life.
Kick the greedy ones out the moment you sense their motives even if you have to call off an engagement or even a Nikah.
lastly if you are an educated woman do go through your nikahnama document as a number of its sections are ignored which go in the favour of a woman.