The customs and traditions of our forefathers performed during festivals and on special occasions such as births, weddings and funerals can be beautiful. However, one custom in India has been exploited over the years so much that today it is directly responsible for the death of a woman every hour, and the mental and physical torture of countless others. Recently a 23-year-old newlywed woman consumed pesticide at her in-law’s residence in Devlamoli , Molcornem- Goa, who succumbed to the poison on Friday after being treated for eight days at The Goa Medial College and Hospital, Bambolim.
Vanita Videsh Gaonkar, a resident of Mushcaverem, married Videsh Gaonkar of Molcornem last year. Her statement recorded by Quepem Police revealed alleged harassment by her father-in-law over the Ladli Laxmi Scheme benefit of 1 lakh.
After her marriage when the money was transferred to her account, she gave 80,000 to her mother to repay the loans which were taken for her marriage. According to the sources, Vanita consumed pesticide on 22nd September after her husband left for night duty. She was rushed to Hospicio Hospital, Margao and later shifted to GMC, Bambolim.
Quepem Police had registered a complaint and later recorded her statement. As her death occurred within seven years of marriage, a magisterial inquiry will be conducted by Shanker Gaonkar, deputy collector of Quepem.
As soon as a girl is born, parents begin worrying about the substantial cost associated with her wedding and how they will be able to afford the dowry to marry her off. Despite the Prohibition of Dowry Act in 1961, dowry is still widely accepted and expected in Indian society. Without it, women remain unmarried, which is a cause of shame in many communities. Families save for years and face debts after borrowing money for dowries. If there is more than one daughter to wed, the financial stress multiplies.
Until the issue of dowry is adequately addressed, other crimes against women and girls in India will continue. Indians must stop viewing women as liabilities, and that will only happen when India’s greed for dowry ends.