Tag Archives: Dowry

demanding equality on ‘men’s day’

CHANDIGARH: Demanding gender equality and welfare of men-the actual victims of modern day life, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) and Parivar Raksha Samiti, highlighted the enactment & implementation of ambiguous laws which are easily susceptible to misuse against men.

On the occasion of International Men’s Day, the NGOs announced that they will extend all help to men who’ve been abused by their wives. According to the National Crime Records Bureau from 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide.

The local chapter of SIFF, which gets more than 200 calls related to harassment meted out by women in a day, organized the function on Thursday wherein moving tales of families and husbands who have been thus tortured, were discussed and demands were made for a gender equality. “It is a crime to be born in as a man inIndia, Even Police is aware of the huge number of fake cases but the law is so anti-man that no one comes to rescue the victim because he is a man,” said Mandeep Puri, member of SIFF and brother of a victim.

”Even animals have a ministry and welfare division, but not Indian men. At least they should have a platform where their grievances are heard,” said Human rights activist Nitin Gupta. SIFF plans to commence a nationwide campaign to get a separate welfare ministry and national men’s commission. “More than 98 per cent Indian husbands face domestic violence in terms of economical abuse, mental harassment and relationship cheating,” Mr Gupta added.

Advocate T S Sudan said, “although law was made with the noble intention to protect the rights of women, it is being largely seen that Dowry and Domestic Violence Act is being misused.” Citing NCRB facts, he added in 6,800 cases of dowry harassment, husbands were sent behind bars without any probe.

Section 125 of the Cr.PC, Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA), Section 25 of the HMA, Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act and Domestic Violence Act were labelled discussed as ‘gender biased Acts misused by women.’

The activists stated that in the last 62 years of Indian Independence not a single rupee has ever been allocated for men’s welfare from the Union Budget, not constitutional or quasi-constitutional body ever been formed to study men’s issues. No study has ever been conducted targeted to study men’s issues. And no scheme envisaged for men’s welfare. The NGOs demanded men’s Welfare, promotion of Gender Equality, abolishment of Biased & In-human Laws and modifications in Maintenance Laws.

published on 19th Nov 2009

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Brides purchased, then exploited in Haryana, Punjab

Decades of unchecked sex-selective abortions have made the once fertile States of Punjab and Haryana suffer a drought of brides, making human-trafficking a lucrative and expanding trade. Often projected as a voluntary marriage, every year, thousands of young women and girls are lured into the idea of a happy married life with a rich man in Punjab or Haryana. Sadly most ‘purchased brides’ are exploited, denied basic rights, duplicated as maids, and eventually abandoned.

Only solution

With skewed sex ratios (Punjab-893, Haryana-877 females per 1,000 males) it is impossible to find a bride for each man, and ‘importing a bride’ has become the only solution. Also, with the tradition of not marrying within the same village and eligible girls marrying the wealthiest suitor, often NRIs, the majority of men in villages are left unmarried and often addicted to drugs.

“What is wrong in marrying a poor girl? I demanded no dowry, rather her family’s social and economic position has improved,” said an agitated Prakash Singh of Harsola village in Kaithal (Haryana), when asked why he married a 19-year-old girl hailing from a poor village from Assam. Interestingly, Mr. Singh has three brothers and no sister; he does not believe that there is any dearth of women in his village.

“There were no eligible girls in our village or social circle. After my son turned 35, we realised that unless we accept a non-Punjabi girl he would never be married and no one would carry the family name forward; so we had to make arrangements,” said Mahinder Singh, an elderly man in Pohlo Majra, Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab). The migration might seem to be a measure to correct the gender imbalance, but the ultimate goal is producing sons.

“Marriage to an imported bride makes caste, language and culture immaterial as long as the price is paid to the girl’s family and a male child is born. Depending on the age, looks and virginity of a girl, grooms pay anywhere from Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 300,000,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organisation working on the issue.

The obvious need gives the practice a social sanction and makes it look like a social service: Sushma Kaur of Pohlo Majra, who married a Sikh man 15 years elder to her, calls it a ‘blessing.’ “My uncle arranged the match, it was difficult in the beginning because of the new language and the culture, but my husband took care of me…My village in Bengal has an excess of females and no one to care for them, and it is a great service if I can arrange a matrimonial match. Ever since I got married, 10 years ago, over a dozen girls have followed me from Bengal,” she says with pride. She added that none of the girls were ill-treated; however, it was not unheard of.

A field study on the impact of sex ratio on the pattern of marriages in Haryana by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra covering over 10,000 households, revealed that over 9,000 married women in Haryana were bought from other States. The study which covered 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonepat, and Mewat districts said that most of the people accepted it as a common practice, but denied having bought a bride in their family.

Most untraceable

“In every village there are over 50 girls that have been bought; some of them as young as 13 and a very small percentage of the ‘sold for marriage’ women are found to be living a married life. Most are untraceable or exploited or duplicated as domestic servants by the agents or men who marry/buy them. There are also instances of girls being resold to other persons after living a married life for a few years,” the study added.

Most of them come from poverty-ridden villages of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, because their families need money; and despite the prevalence of the dowry system in the north Indian states, men are ready to pay for a wife.

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how much are you worth…in Dowry?

While dowry may be an ancient tradition, a new website,dowrycalculator.com, has added a satirical twist to the dubious practice by providing prospective grooms a calculator for their “market price”.

Keeping factors such as age, caste, profession, income, institution, skin colour, father’s profession, place of work, height and previous marriages as the determinants, the website mocks at the system and dedicates itself to “all the match-making aunties of India”.

Poking fun at the obsession with fair skin, the website gives extra credit to skin colour. Options vary from pitch black — not visible on a moonless night — to wheatish. The obsession with limited educational options and foreign universities is also mocked at as all universities other than IITs, Harvard and Stanford are clubbed under “none of the above” and a dozen popular professions choices are followed by “unemployed”.

Also, dreams of foreign land are showcased in the workplace options varying from India, the US, any European country or “country more developed than India and any country less developed than India”.

The website, launched on May 6, went viral in no time and received more than half a million hits within a month.

“It was a laugh riot for my friends and me when we filled in our details to find out our dowry worth,” said a 26-year-old engineer. “I have a decent amount of Rs.35 lakh, but my dream dowry amount awaits me and so I should slog harder….. I detest dowry, and this is the best way to show society that present generation grooms find it shameful to be part of a deal.”

 

Tanul Thakur, an electrical engineering graduate from Illinois University who developed the website, says he believes humour has great power to not only expose and question archaic customs prevailing in society but to change society for the better.

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married to an NRI- dream or a nightmare!

 

 

CHANDIGARH: A quick engagement, followed by a massive wedding, a huge dowry and a honeymoon, after which the NRI husband flies out of India while the wife waits for her visa….. That’s how thousands of Punjabi women describe their plight. According to NGOs working in the Doaba region of Punjab, over 20,000 girls have not seen their husbands after their honeymoon.

 

“Eighty per cent of the marriages to NRI men in Punjab are doomed, as the husbands never return to take their brides,” says Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, the lone crusader for the helpless NRIwives.

 

The desire to go overseas gets manifested during the wedding season when parents force girls to marry a man whom she barely knows. If all goes well, the girl’s family feels proud of her Canada-based daughter, but if the marriage fails then the girl becomes a pariah in her own family.

 

These deserted wives become dependents on their parents and their misery is further compounded if they are pregnant or have children. Ravinder Kaur’s ten-year-old son has never seen his father. It is believed that he went back to Vancouver and remarried.

 

“We got married in 1995. He was here for four months and then he left promising me that he would send for me. I tried to contact him thereafter but all the addresses were wrong, the relatives were liars and today I am a helpless burden on my family. There is no law to help me or ensure that more women don’t get trapped,” she says, pleading to the girls of Punjab to stop dreaming about the US or Canada.

 

The phenomenon of runaway grooms and holiday wives has existed for over two decades and affected three generations — parents, daughters and the children. The Punjab-based Lok Bhalai Party estimates that the 20,000 cases of abandoned wives prove that the phenomenon has attained the spectre of organised crime. Over the last few years, the party has taken over 1,100 cases of abandoned wives to court.

 

Many girls, who go to the US or Canada hoping to live a happy life, realise that their husbands are already married or they end up being treated as domestic servants. “After waiting for my husband for over a year I decided to claim the life I was promised, so I went to his house in Toronto and I was devastated to find that he had two children. Despite the social stigma, I returned home, filed for divorce and started my life afresh because I was too young to stop living,” said a 29-year-old engineer, working in Amritsar.

 

“Although the alliance was proposed by a family friend, we checked every single detail of the boy and his family, then we arranged a court marriage, and after the formality of visa papers was done, we did the anand karaj (Sikh marriage),” says a retired army officer in Chandigarh whose 25-year-old daughter married an NRI from Canada last December. Baljinder Kaur, who runs Shadi Point, one of the oldest marriage bureaus in Ludhiana, says that due to the large number of NRI fraud marriages she had to double-check the identity of the groom and his family. “We keep a copy of the groom’s passport and residence proof but we always caution the girl’s family to cross-check his education, occupation and most importantly criminal record and marital status,” she adds.

 

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently announced his decision to appoint an officer of the rank of ADGP to deal with such cases on top priority, adding that they would soon be settled within a time frame to ensure justice.

 

According to Chandigarh-based sociologist and women’s rights activist Jyoti Seth, the issue of bride abandonment is rooted in the false notions of wealth and well-being in an NRI life.


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declining sex ratio forces ‘import’ of brides

CHANDIGARH: Declining sex ratios have compelled farmers of Punjab to “import” brides from states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh leading to large-scale trafficking of women in the State. Usually, the girls are between 12 and 17 years of age.

“There isn’t any choice. Either you buy a bride or remain a bachelor who has no sons to inherit his property,” says Malkeet Singh (27) of Fatehgarh Sahib district. Scarcity of marriageable girls in his village, 40 km from here, compelled him to shop for a bride. He followed in the footsteps of his uncles and paid Rs.25,000 for his wife from a poverty-ridden village in Bihar.

According to the 2001 census, Punjab has a sex ratio of 793 girls for 1,000 boys. Fatehgarh Sahib has the country’s worst sex ratio of 754 girls for 1,000 boys (0-6 age bracket).

“Decades of sex-determination tests followed by female foeticide have resulted in an even more shameful sociological phenomenon wherein women have been reduced to son-producing machines. Women who fail to produce sons are sent back, sold or abandoned,” says Manvinder Kaur, Reader at the Centre for Women Studies, Punjab University.

No data is available on the number of girls trafficked into Punjab, but every village has a number of “bought brides”.

The trade is being carried on by the second and third generation victims. Malkeet’s aunt, Kusum Devi, also from Bihar, managed his alliance. “Marrying their daughters is a relief for the families, especially when they receive money instead of having to pay a dowry.”

According to Ameer Sultana of the Centre for women Studies at Punjab University: “Girls who are bought from poor homes are never considered equal. They have no rights and even after many years she knows that she is a commodity, which is used and often shared by all the men in the family.”

According to Ms. Kaur, “The females trafficked into this region will not correct the sex ratio as they are meant to produce only males. Education is not a solution as most of the foeticide cases reported are of educated women. We need a massive drive to make people aware of the ground realities because both tradition and technology have started to favour female foeticide. Going by the rate at which girls are going missing from Punjab and Haryana they would be a rare sight soon.”

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