Female Foeticide vis-a-vis Dowry system in India: A case study

April 3rd, 20103:52 pm @    

Due to advancement in technology and communications we are so dependent on easy to access means of knowledge that we have almost forgotten the joy of exploring things and attaining/discovering new facts by our own. But one must remember that sometimes even your tiny bit of efforts may teach you a lot. I experienced the delight of getting to know something different (and I am proud to say that it is firsthand knowledge) recently in my winter vacations. In my trip to a village in Madhya Pradesh- Gram Deedakhedi I came across a very fascinating group of people. They are known as the ‘Mewadas’. They trace their origin to the State of Rajasthan but have dispersed in the neighbouring states as well.

While interacting with them I was enlightened (off course not in the Buddha way!). I was enlightened in the sense that I had acquired a whole new perspective on the infamous dowry system prevalent in our country. Also I could imagine that where increasing trends of female foeticide will lead us in the near future. We have loads of laws in India which attempt to curb the menace of dowry and provide relief to a girl’s parents. But what if customs of a particular dictate that the groom is supposed to give a hefty dowry to get a bride?

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Yes, this happens in the Mewada community. These people follow a little different set of traditions when it comes to the question of matrimony. The usual system of Dowry is absent from their culture! The girl’s side is not supposed to give dowry to boy’s side at the time of marriage unlike weddings which we usually get to see. Instead the boy is supposed to present the girl a decent number of gifts in form of jewellery and clothing.

You must be wondering why it is so. The reason behind this reverse custom is the prevailing male – female ratio in the community. Girls are far less in number. If the family of the boy does not get him engaged in the childhood itself then there is a strong probability that he might not get any girl for himself when he attains a marriageable age. Hence the boy’s side ensures that he has a bride by paying a certain amount to the bride’s family at the time of fixing the marriage when the girl and the boy are children.

But changing times have lead to increase in cases of divorce among Mewadas. The major factor for such change is the increasing educational standard of boys of the Mewada community. They are now acquiring higher education which makes them realize that the partner whom his parents had wed him to may not be suitable for him. Though they get married at a very young age but the girl continues her stay at her parent’s house till the time of ‘Gaona’ (the event when the girl formally goes to her husband’s house as a fully fledged wife.). But due to changing attitudes, the boy after attaining education may refuse to go and accept his bride because it is not her whom he fancies according to his newly acquired tastes and preferences. So he opts for a divorce instead!

Coming back to the point which I wish to convey I must say that this situation should serve as a warning signal for all those ignorant and unaware people who think that they are proudest parents on earth if they have a son! It is time to change such a prudish mentality. Female foeticide should be checked as soon as possible. Stringent laws need to be enforced to save the girl child. The example of Mewada community is everyone’s immediate future. But near future has a lot more in store. Considering the dismal position of girls in India the day is not very far off when a single woman would be married to multiple husbands! Imagine!! Freaky isn’t it?

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Nikita is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of MightyLaws.in. She is a lawyer/author residing in Delhi. She believes that increasing legal awareness is the key to ensure social justice and simplification of law is the means to achieve it. She writes articles on social and political issues for various platforms in English and Hindi.

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