I read a shocking piece of news in yesterday's edition of The Times Of India. A young wife had acid poured on her face and down her throat by her enraged husband. Why? Her father couldn't afford to fulfill his son-in-law's latest dowry demand. A poor farmer, the father would struggle hard to satisfy these recurring demands, to prevent his daughter's abuse at the hands of her husband. However, the latest ask of Rs. 80,000 and a new motorcycle was beyond his means. Today, this woman is battling for her life in hospital.
Incidents like this one sadden me greatly. Why, I wonder, do parents willingly risk their daughters' lives?
According to a newspaper report which I've quoted in a recent post, India sees one dowry death every hour. What's more, I am absolutely sure all these women were abused before they were forced to die. In all likelihood, they were abused repeatedly. It is also equally likely that parents were aware of what their daughters were going through.
A significantly large chunk of our society seems to think that marriage is the be-all and end-all of a woman's life. Come what may, she must be married as early as possible, and then she must stay married. So parents will give in to demands by unscrupulous grooms and families, to ensure that their daughter is 'accepted'. When she is harassed and tortured for more after marriage, they will fold their hands and keep giving, in the hope of appeasing the in-laws and 'buying' her happiness. If she leaves, she is sent back. If she's thrown out, they will beg the in-laws to take her back. Divorce is not an option, as they are afraid of what others might say. So she must continue to suffer in silence, keep adjusting to whatever is meted out to her, and be stoic about it.
What amazes me most is that none of these folks are able of foresee the risk they are subjecting their daughters to. Or perhaps they do get a sense of foreboding, but choose not to act in the hope that things won't get any worse?
And then, people run from pillar to post to seek justice for a daughter, once she is no more. What they fail to realize is that timely intervention could have saved her life.
If only the parents of these women had refused to hand their daughters over to greedy grooms and in-laws. If only they had brought their daughters back home upon the first signs of torture and abuse. If only they had empowered their daughters to be capable and independent women.
"If only" ..... but saying so is utterly pointless. Because regret won't bring her back.
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