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The “ticket to a happy life” Politics of Indian marriages in the context of violence in connection with dowry · Global Voices


Vismaya Nair, screenshot from YouTube Channel Self Tag.  Fair use.

Vismaya Nair, a screenshot from the YouTube Channel Self Tag. Fair use.

The recent death of 24-year-old medical student Vismaya Nair in the Indian state of Kerala has sparked widespread outrage and renewed discussions about dowry and domestic violence in India. Despite their illegality, dowries are widely viewed by families on both sides as a source of pride and status. The dark underbelly of the practice includes discrimination against girls, femicide, abuse, and endless violence against brides in the country. Vismaya’s death renewed the call for a permanent solution that would end the harmful practice.

Dowry in India

Unravel the turbidity Origins the dowry in India It is not easy. Dowry is essentially a payment made by the bride’s family in cash or goods in exchange for the marriage. Women are expected to give up their inheritance or property rights in exchange for dowry, which many women have to accept out of family loyalty and fear of quarrels. Women who refuse to offer a dowry often fail to marry and can be completely cut off from their family members.

TThe amount of dowry typically depends on a variety of factors including religion, caste, place of residence, education, class identity, prestige, and social aspirations – with dictating power being reserved exclusively for the groom and his family. Finding a dowry has been banned in India since 1961, but the practice persists. Enforcing the law was a challenge. Data from 40,000 marriages concluded in rural India between 1960 and 2008 found that more than 95 percent of the marriages studied involved some form of dowry.

Dowry is popularly exchanged under the pretext of being a voluntary gift to avoid legal consequences and declared necessary to ensure the daughter’s comfort in her new home, making regulation difficult.

Anecdotal and quantitative evidence confirms that for a large part of women in India Access to resources and freedoms gained through education disappear when they get married. Women are expected to work invisibly, play multiple roles, and give up personal choices in marriage – often with encouragement from their families. In recent years, the dowry has permeated in communities where the practice never existed.

The dowry costs life

On an early summer’s day in 1979, the 24-year-old remarried Tarvinder Kaur was doused with kerosene and set on fire by her mother-in-law and sister-in-law because she had not contributed a sufficiently large dowry. Deep flames enveloped Tarvinder and burned them to ashes. Her brother HS Bhandari, consumed with sorrow and desolation, said India Today: “If only we had realized how serious the situation is. We thought it was just another case of marriage adjustment and that in a few days everything would be back to normal. She was actually pretty desperate and wanted to return home.

There were protests and women’s rights groups took to the streets call for an impartial process and fair redress. Tarvinder’s story set the stage for the 1980s movement against dowry murder and gender-based violence, which too Landmark Anti-dowry laws in India. Emerged from a newly developing one feminist awareness, these laws laid out a powerful path formulated through a survivor-centered vision. Regardless, the dowry and violence associated with the dowry continued, resulting in disillusionment, anger, and personal suffering.

What happened to Vismaya?

Forty-two years later, on June 21, 2021, Vismaya – a medical student who had been married to Kiran Kumar, a literate government official, for just over a year – was found dead at her home on the south Indian coast of Kerala. Your dowry included 100 Sovereigns of Gold, one acre of land and one car worth INR 10 lakh (approximately $ 13,000). Vismaya was brutally abused emotionally and physically by Kiran fulfill his dowry expectations, both their parents and their in-laws knew.

Vismaya apparently felt the need trying to get it to work – she was worried about people’s comments and had no opportunity to shape her life. Caught between a family who wanted them to compromise and a household where violence could easily be normalized, a desperate Vismaya was exhausted from the struggle for survival. Investigations were carried out, Kiran was arrested and his bail was refused.

Countless stories similar to those of Vismaya and Tarvinder have been shared across India over the years. The Indian National Crime Records Bureau data for 2019 presents a gloomy picture. Figures show that these gruesome crimes increased by a whopping 7.3 percent from 2018 to 2019, with those of poverty and marginalized backgrounds facing disproportionate acts of violence.

Widespread reactions

Vismaya’s death fueled anger and debate on social media, with many calling for an end to illegal dowry practices. Many users also speculated on the reasons for maintaining dowry practices. Radhika Roy, lawyer and activist said:

It’s so tragic. Much of this comes from the premium placed on marriage as the be-all and end-all of a woman’s existence; that the life of a woman without a husband, no matter how cruel, leads to nowhere. https://t.co/oEuatAp6C0

– Radhika Roy (@ royradhika7) June 22, 2021

The audience also explored the root causes of gender-based violence such as inequality, patriarchy and other forms of oppression. Some claimed that trauma, gender, and power are being decolonized and recognized Families could be places of violence were an integral part of change.

Journalist Shepali Bhat reflected in an immersive thread on Twitter over Seeing the intergenerational trauma she faced as a young child, how her mother experienced domestic violence, and explained why abused women cannot “just leave”:

A trauma therapist once told me that our mind suppresses memories of trauma, the body stores it. When something triggers this trauma, our body goes through its horror. This reading triggered the childhood trauma of witnessing my mother being exposed to domestic violence. I’m going to talk about it today https://t.co/GsqtOAHGEe

– Shephali Bhatt (@ShephaliBhatt) June 22, 2021

Rogan_doh says on Reddit,

I may sound insensitive, but the girl’s parents deserve to be blamed too. Despite a history of abuse (once even before the father), no steps were taken to keep them out of the environment. It is sad that in our country “log kya kahenge” [what will people tell] and oh God, my daughter might end up being a divorcee who overcomes the need to protect her child’s physical and spiritual well-being. “

Kerala’s Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted solidarity and promise a Range of Dimensions:

As a society, we need to reform the prevailing marriage system. Marriage must not be a pompous display of the social status and wealth of the family. Parents need to recognize that the barbaric dowry system degrades our daughters to commodities. We need to treat them better as human beings.

– Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) June 23, 2021

But past records prove it local departments and governments have been largely unsuccessful. Access to medical and Mental health Support remains elusive for many. Pop culture and regional films again and again glorify Partner violence as a side effect of love and central tropes such as family honor, stalking, marital rape, control and domestic violence. Above all, however, entire generations of young men brazenly demand dowry despite their commitment to modern values. Just one Base level The advocacy movement has the potential to completely overhaul the system and restore justice.


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