Are Women really Misusing India’s Anti-Dowry Law?

There’s much talk about the Supreme Court of India’s latest directions to the investigation (the Police) to ensure the credibility of any Dowry complaint, before putting in jail the husband and everyone else among the in laws, who the Wife or the woman claims to have victimised her for dowry.

Various Newspapers and TV News channels are taking different lines on the sensitive issue of Dowry and arrest made under Section 498 A of IPC . Overall, they are welcoming the Supreme Court Direction. The reason being attributed is : The Anti-Dowry act is one of the most misused law in the country, with the conviction rate of as low as 15 percent.

With due respect to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, I think Supreme Court has taken the “misuse of Law” argument too seriously. Or because the Law is Blind. It has to act on the evidence put before it.

But still, there are reasons why immediate Arrest of husband and in-laws accused of atrocity on the woman looks logical :

1) All Alone in the Household : The Woman or Wife is alone in that household. If things go bitter between husband and wife, she is all alone in the husband’s household. For obvious reasons. That’s why the Police has to  believe the wife cent percent. If police wait for the word of the in-laws, neighbours or someone in that locality, then chances are that no one will come out to agree with the Woman’s accusations.

2) Insensitive Police and Society : There’s much talk about changing Social and Economic conditions in India in the past one decade and increase in anti-dowry related cases in the country. The argument is not wrong. The country has indeed prospered and socially changed in the past 15 years, resulting in more girls getting higher education and joining the workforce. But one thing has not changed. I’m not referring to Dowry demand. As the fact of the matter is , both sides to a marriage are responsible for encouraging the dowry. The Girl’s parents to lure in the best suitor ; and the boy’s parents to gain some more wealth. Thus in majority of cases, dowry at the time of marriage, makes way for dowry demands later on. What I’m referring to is something else.

One thing that has not changed for ages, is the basic psyche of a woman. A woman wants the best for her. This means best of everything : Luxury, physical bliss, respect , admiration, praise, hundred percent dedication to her etc. But she knows that it’s impossible to get everything in real life. That’s why she compensates the absence of one with the presence of the other. It’s a compensatory thing, where the sum total must be positive. When this doesn’t happen, feuds arise between husband and wife. The problem in India is that the Police and Society are so insensitive in acknowledging these other needs that the woman is left with no other option but to placate any victimization of her as Dowry related. The moment we have a system in place, where a woman can ask for divorce and maintenance on other grounds (considered personal such as lack of marital bliss, respect etc.) , we will instantly see a decline in Dowry complaints.

With more women empowerment in terms of education, jobs and voice, we will see more dowry cases, unless the police and society are made sensitive to Women’s needs, which they consider as rightful. If a man sees submissiveness , obedience or silent wife as a virtue. Then he better change such perceptions, as with education and economic independence, every individual gets a voice. Wife is no exception.

3) Need to view the Law from a Sensitive Perspective :  The 85 percent acquittal rate in Dowry cases is because the Wife , being an all alone party, can never prove the atrocity on her. That apart, there’s always an emotional connect between a husband and a wife, making the bond never too weak to be resolved amicably.

That apart, we must be sensitive to 498 A of IPC as the consequences of real dowry demands are not small. More than 8,600 cases where women died from dowry-related harassment were registered in India in 2011, up from 8,391 the year before and just over 6,000 in 2002, according to the latest figures from the National Crime Records Bureau. In addition, if we are empowering our daughters and sisters, then why see a misuse ,when she is someone else’s daughter or sister.

A man needs a wife, as much as a woman needs a husband. So why become insensitive.

Last but not the least, it is easy to justify anything on changing social morals and modernization; but agree it or not, a woman with far less physical strength and representation than a man has higher chances to be a victim. Irrespective of whether she is at fault or not.

An excellent example of this is Female Foeticide or “Killing of Girl Child in mother’s womb”. Since a girl in womb can never question — why she is being killed? That’s why crores of Girls are killed in India in the past couple of decades. In English, we call it “Nip in the Bud” . If an unborn daughter could file an FIR for her murder, then Lakhs if not crores of parents would be in jail. For real reasons. Surprisingly all those people who shout misuse of Dowry Act 1983 , get silent when it comes to killing of Lakhs of unborn girl every year.

This is not something made out of thin air. Even if you condemn the killing of a girl child or even if you don’t differentiate between genders, ask yourself : Can you debate or stop someone from doing the criminal act? Chances are you can’t. But one surely can debate Dowry Act misuse in a chaupal.

I know most people in India will not agree with this post, but blogging is not for Creating a “Common Admiration Group”.

PS: There’s nothing wrong in a woman demanding best for her. There’s nothing wrong in a woman demanding non-distracted attention from her husband. This is because as a mother she has to rear children. If she fails to get nothing but the best for her; she fails to get the best for her children. This is mother instinct and is given to all mothers — birds, animals , insects etc. Imagine a situation where a husband doesn’t earn sufficient or has kept another woman. Will the children of such marriage get the best upbringing?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandyamit Jul 5, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Rubbish! Even man wants the best. Now that makes marriages impossible. Outlaw the marriage! Simple! Or allow men divorcees on any flimsy grounds.
    Wives do not deserve any maintenance. They should have the dignity to earn their own money and build their own property.
    Vulnerability of women can not be the excuse to imprison innocent men.
    Incidents should be dealt through justice and not gender or subjective issues such as somebody was “alone”
    Yes it is the instinct of women to try to control men. If it is fine then men also must be allowed to control women! Women can not, should not and must not try to use society to control any one – even their husbands.