India is known as a ‘land of gods’, where the people believe in the Almighty and are portrayed as well cultured people in the world. But there are some customs which stain our society, and dowry is one of them. Dowry is a marriage system which includes means gifting of cash (or in kind) to the bridegroom’s family along with the bride.
Dowry is practiced all over the country but it is more pronounced in North India. It is a common practice in Haryana too, and is also an important social issue in the state which needs to be curbed. It is a social evil which gives rise to related offences such as dowry-deaths, dowry-murders and dowry-suicides. As per reports, on an average 9,000 women have died every year during 2005-2012 due to dowry deaths. In Haryana, it is a main cause for the rise in female infanticide, as a girl child’s family consider themselves to be incapable to afford dowry during her marriage. As per census 2011, the sex ratio in the state is 879, which signifies the lesser number of females in the state.
As per statistics, 481 dowry deaths were reported in Haryana in the year 2012. There must be numerous similar cases which took place in the rural and far-flung areas of the state which were never reported. Many brides go through domestic and emotional abuse in the name of this system. Sometimes, they are even forced to commit suicide or are killed. The crime against women in the context to marriage is not limited to domestic violence or dowry, but there is another big offence that is being committed in the state. It is a proven fact there are fewer females in the state, and it has been found that the males in Haryana are buying brides from other parts of the country at “cheaper prices”. The skewed sex ratio has resulted in this business of buying the brides, who are bought from states like, Kerala, Bihar, Tripura and other northeast states. It will be shocking to note that these brides are bought at a price which is as low as Rs. 1,000.
This practice will not be abolished from the state unless stricter measures are adopted. The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 cannot alone resolve this issue. It is necessary to change the society first. A change in the law and order, along with a change in custom and rituals, is the need of the hour. Education and importance of a girl child is required to be propagated. There have been cases where the police could not take actions as there were no complaints registered. It is necessary that the women in Haryana be acquainted with their rights and given the courage to fight for them. The government should also initiate more schemes for the girl child and their marriage, which can help them lead a safe and protected life. Respect for women should be learnt, taught and followed in each and every family of Haryana. Our daughters and daughter-in-laws should live in a safe world and that world will be known as Naya Haryana.