And again my question – is it enough to just book the in-laws?
Are the parents not to be blamed too?
From the details available, Devi’s husband asked her to bring Rs 50,000 from her father but she refused.
Presumably Devi discussed the issue with her parents and possibly they couldn’t afford the money or just refused the demand for dowry – as they should. But this wasn’t the first time he had demanded dowry in the 8 years they had been married. And he used to frequently beat her for dowry.
Since the father was supposed to shell out the money, one can safely presume the parents were in the know about their daughter’s plight.
But did they do anything?
They sent her back.
Again and again.
Because that was her home.
Not the one where she was born.
But where she was wedded and bedded – worse gave birth to a daughter.
But that was her kismet and her destiny. And it was up to her make her life heaven or hell.
It was all her responsibility.
Her parents had done their duty and gained the highest degree of good karma by doing kanyadaan. Now they could look forward to their reserved seats in heaven.
While their daughter Devi (which rather ironically means goddess) lived in hell.
Upset at being denied the money, last Saturday, the drunken husband tied Devi to the cot and set it on fire.
When his 6-year-old daughter began crying, he threw her on the burning cot as well.
Drunk as he was, I am willing to bet, he would have never thrown his son into the pyre.
Or that things would have reached this stage at all.
As expected, an FIR has been filed against the husband and in-laws by Devi’s parents. They have accused her in-laws of harassing and torturing poor Devi for dowry for the past eight years.
That bring me back to my original question – aren’t the parents equally culpable?
Why did the parents not insist that Devi leave her in-laws house?
Why should Devi’s parents reap the benefits of her death?
Yes the benefits.
A case will be filed, the ‘culprits’ put in jail and compensation paid to parents for ‘their’ loss.
A win-win situation for parents:
- Sympathy from the society
- Media limelight
- Monetary compensation from the state
- No more sleepless nights that she would land up battered, bruised, unasked and unwanted.
What more could beleaguered parents of daughters ask for?
This state of affairs is inexplicable, incomprehensible, reprehensible, unconscionable and inexcusable.
This must change and soon.
The mechanism to penalize in-laws has been in place for decades but cases of bride burning continue to be reported.
But what about the thousands (if not lakhs) of women who don’t have the ‘luxury’ of death and have no place to call their own?
Don’t sons continue to live with their parents after their marriage under the same roof?
Why can’t daughters too do the same, if they so wish without fear of societal backlash?
Why shouldn’t parents be penalized for not taking a preemptive step to ensure their daughter’s well being?
Why is the woman who is forced to leave the safety and comfort of their own homes, give up their own names in order to ‘build’ the home of another have no place to call her own?
Why does a society not have a mechanism in place for the safety and well being of women?