Marriage is preceded by many functions, functions that unify the family together, functions that spread the love and long for the lost times while silently praying the best ones to come, functions that allow us to be our stylish best. But also the functions that slyly pass off patriarchy and the social evils we have tried to run away from, or at least pretending to.
There’s a lot of gift exchanging that essentially takes place, covering itself glossily in the idea of cultural norms, more so on the bride’s side than the groom’s. Such gift exchanging functions passing off the patriarchy subtly and perpetuating it one gift at a time are common occurrences in most of our Indian marriages, especially in North-India. However, as we are humans, the most despicable at that, our wants are never curbed, we are greedy as we can ever be. As Mahatma Gandhi said,
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.
Consequence of which, we have everyday cases of women being burned, tortured, harassed and often killed for death. From getting forcefully tattoo-ed to sexual abuse, from hearing all sorts of taunts to a diminished identity, from being a woman to being a commodity meant to act as a coupon for further goodies; women have to endure a lot at the hands of the in-laws, inclusive of both men and women.
Often, there are cases of harassment that is inflicted on men for the same, yet mostly it goes unnoticed or unreported.
Recently, the wife of a national Kabbadi champion hanged herself due to various mental traumas that she faced at the hands of her husband and in-laws. As per the allegations, she was tortured for dowry, taunted and beaten by her husband and his family.
The Domestic Violence Act encompasses all forms of physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse and forms a subset of the anti-dowry laws, and remains punishable as per law. However, where law lacks jurisdiction, society reigns. It has been normalised, the extent towards which a woman is supposed to take abuse of any kind, it is a phase and everyone must pass it so as to achieve the idea of a great happy family which is fuelled more by greed than emotions.
It is okay to be not okay, says many with a wound on their body, heart and the soul.
This entire incident brings many issues to forefront. Obviously, dowry remains a social evil which is still undertaken and participated in by many who are part of our patriarchal society; secondly, the incident speaks volumes about mental distress. We, in our country, have never paid much attention to the traumas of mind which plague majority of our population. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, sleep paralysis, schizophrenia, social anxiety and many more do impact us Indians, they are not just problems of the westernised society. Yet, we remain immune to them.
With Deepika Padukone focussing on #DobaraPoocho campaign that essentially targets depression, anxiety and stress disorders, there’s a tiny bit of hope that people actually start discussing the traumas of the mind with as much ease as the traumas of our politics. The campaign urges the near and dear ones of the inflicted to be concerned about the person and help them, however, what if the family is the only one causing such a plight?
Will they bother to ask twice about your mental health, when they are the one contributing towards it?
Let’s be concerned for not just the material health but also for the well-being of the person who is so easily exploited. Dowry is a crime; give-and-take of commodities can never testify and speak for relationships or further attest it. Let’s not rot the relationship with the shine of gold amalgamated with murderous glances or intentions, shall we?