Maharashtra board textbook blames 'ugliness' for dowry
The Indian Government has been taking multiple initiatives to eradicate menace of the dowry system that makes millions of women vulnerable to abuse. Despite these initiatives; perceptions and mindsets are a long way from changing. Students at Maharashtra schools are being taught that it's difficult to marry "ugly and handicapped" girls and parents are forced to pay leading to rise in dowry-system.
Dowry: What is it?
Dowry is essentially a demand for property (money, goods, estate) made by the bridegroom from the girl's family often as a pre-condition to culmination of marriage.
Is Dowry legal in India?
Giving or taking dowry has been prohibited in India since Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was enacted. It is also a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code. Complaints by a woman regarding dowry harassment lead to automatic arrest of the bridegroom and his family. However, despite enacting multiple laws, they have proven to be ineffective as dowry system continues to be prevalent countrywide.
Dowry system makes women increasingly vulnerable
Due to a wide variety of socio-economic factors, dowry demands continue unabated. Girl's parents often mortgage their houses, take loans that take years to repay to fulfill such demands. If marriage falls through because of inability to pay, woman's family finds it significantly harder to find another match. Most families often comply since having an unmarried daughter is seen as a stigma.
Dowry deaths: One woman dies almost every hour
Over the last three years, 24,771 dowry deaths have been reported according to National Crimes Records Bureau. The maximum number of deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh: 7,048 deaths.
Pinning social evil on women?
Textbook extract: "If a girl is ugly and handicapped, it becomes very difficult for her to get married. Parents of such girls become helpless and pay dowry as per the demands of the bridegroom's family. It leads to rise in the practice of dowry system."
Slammed from all sides
Bandra professor, on condition of anonymity said, she was shocked to read such insensitive content in a board textbook. She added most professors avoid reading this portion from the text book and said even "students find this particular chapter rubbish". State Education Minister Vinod Tawde refused to comment and asked chairman of education board to give an explanation. Action against officials has been promised.