Struggle Against Dowry System
The Hindu Code Law was duly passed in the Parliament, but it could not safeguard the women from the agony and torture caused by the dowry system. Even today many women suffer for this disgraceful social practice. And when their sufferings become too much for them to bear, they commit suicide to find relief in death. When the Hindu Code Bill was placed in the Parliament for debate, there were differences of opinion within the Congress. Some members were not in favour of this law. So the Congress party which was then in power had to get the law passed by applying party whip. In the opposition parties also there were some members who fought against the bill.
When the law was being debated in the parliament, it was found that many housewives and many peasant women were against the bill. They knew it well that a women could not get married unless the dowry was paid. So they found no reason ton support the law. In the meetings with women we hear the same sad stories of many families that fell victims to the dowry. Many had to to sell their landed property, and many had become completely bankrupt to get their daughters married. A woman would not get married without paying the dowry, in spite of her education or skill in household work. In fact, her education or other qualities were of no worth in of money, ornaments and landed property that would be given to the bridegroom at the time of her marriage. How could she become happy at her marriage, when her marriage made her father insolvent? She could sit on the bridal stool, trying hard to hide her tears. Nothing can be more pathetic than this.
Sometimes it so happened that a bride's father was unable to meet all the dowry claims at the time of his daughter's marriage. He would then promise to pay the dowry at the later date. But if he failed to keep his promise, the bride would be mercilessly persecuted by her husband or parents-in-law. There was no limit to this cruel torture. In some cases the bride could be killed or driven to suicide. The groom's family arranged for his remarriage to get new dowry.
The violence of the anti-dowry law was rampant, but the government could not make the law effective. Had the law been strictly applied, lavish display of riches could not be seen in the marriage ceremonies in the rich families. The police connived at the unlawful exchange that took place in such marriages. Exemplary punishment should have been inflicted on those who violated the law.
We see the evil effects of the dowry in the villages. The towns presented a worse picture. We see many poor people who get their daughters married by giving huge dowry. If they failed to pay the dowry in installments, their daughters would be forced to come back to them. And the grooms would marry again without being punishment by the law that banned polygamy.
There is only one way to eradicate this evil custom of dowry. It lies in the hands of women. They should stand until in their protest against dowry. The mean-minded bridegrooms are devoid of moral scruples. They do not feel ashamed to take money and various valuable articles of luxury from their fathers-in-law. There are some who prosecute higher studies at the expense of their fathers-in-law. It is only women who can make them check their greed and bring them to their senses. None can save the womenfolk from the clutches of the dowry devil unless they themselves stand firmly against this evil custom. So the ant-dowry campaign should be the most important item on the agendas of all women's organizations.
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