By Jyoti Singh:
“Had she been my daughter, I would have shot her for the shame she has brought upon our family!”
How many times have you heard something of this kind before? Ask me and I will tell you that I have heard this a hundred thousand times in the many years I have lived . This is the reality of the place I was born in, no matter how grim it may seem to you.
I have come across the grand tales of killing one’s daughter for one reason or other many times now. These were the tales of horrors narrated to us when we were kids. Some of those who were murdered were my own cousins. Some of the people who killed them hold stupendous records of killing their six or seven daughters in a row till a male child was born.
The logic behind such gruesome acts of barbarity when asked was, “itna dahej kahan se layenge?” (from where will we bring so much dowry?) One cannot justify their crimes but the logic behind the murders isn’t baseless. A civil servant from the upper caste demands a dowry of one crore, while the P.O. of a government bank will not agree to marry if he is not given atleast a sum of 25 lakhs and a professor in a reputed college will not compromise on anything less than 30-35 lakhs in cash, mind it! Dowry, an evil in itself, leads to other evils in the society such as female foeticide/infanticide, subjugation of women and limiting the expenses incurred on them etc. Also, those parents who dare to raise their girl child have no other option but to indulge in unfair means to accumulate enough wealth so that they can do their daughter’s kanyadaan. Apart from this if you haven’t brought enough dowries with you then there are high chances that you could be subjected to extreme forms of domestic violence which might be fatal. Such a loss is irredeemable. These gruesome events take place in a country where the laws are pro-girls.
Therefore, when a girl elopes to marry a man of her choice, technically it should please the parents. But, unfortunately it does not. She is hunted down by all means and life after that for her is never the same. She is not supposed to marry a guy of her own sub-caste, a guy of another caste or a guy of another religion. So, before she can think of falling in love she needs to rationalize whether this relationship is feasible. And they say, “Love just happens.” Fools they are! Therefore, the options available to her are narrowed down to the guy of her parent’s choice.
So, why don’t we trust our parents that they will make the best choice for us? Is it our instinct to experiment or the influence of the so-called modern ways that we want to fall in love freely? But, love does not leave any choice. So, I asked my brother (since I dare not ask my father), “Am I allowed falling in love?” He nodded, “Yes you are by your own will! But, why do you want to opt for something which will create problems at home?” A point well made by my brother which sums up the precarious nature of choices available to us.
If I can make the choice of my career on my own, if I know what food I like, what dress I prefer, what people I like to be with, why I can’t I choose my partner? What’s so wrong with this that it does not get me the approval of my parents and society by extension? Why is that when I choose to materialize my relationship with my partner, I need to flee from home?
Why can’t I just go to my parents and say that this is the guy I want to be with?
But then, I am a good girl. I am not going to leave my father for a petty five-year long relationship with a boy. I am not even going to ask such questions. I won’t let these stupid thoughts cloud my brain. I cannot be a bad example for my younger sisters. I cannot soil my father’s honour for my dreams and desires. I cannot be the cause of the murder of a yet another girl child whose parents are scared that they will have to face the same disgrace suffered by my parents.
I am ready to die a thousand deaths in silence. This is not my own destiny…this is the collective destiny of my community.