'No Dowry' affidavit: Finally, a move in right direction by Akhilesh Government

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UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
With the highest number of dowry death cases in Uttar Pradesh, it seems that the state government has finally waked up to take a call on the issue.

As per a TOI report," A circular sent to all government departments in Uttar Pradesh makes it mandatory for bachelors among the staff to file an affidavit with their HoDs vowing they will not demand dowry.""

The report also says that the even acceptance of any cheques, fixed deposits, costly items even by the government employees in the bride's name will not be allowed. The order signed by director, social welfare department, has been sent to all government offices across the state. And it has clearly been said that any non-compliance would result in loss of job.

District probation officer, Usha Tiwari told TOI, "Apart from providing relief to parents struggling to arrange dowry for a suitable groom employed in government service, would also provide more teeth to the government in cracking down against those patronizing the dowry system, which is a major social evil, more so in the Hindi heartland. "

Two-thirds of the cases of violence against women in India are related to dowry. And at a time when the numbers are highest in Uttar Pradesh, taking such a step is commendable. In India, a bride is burned every 90 minutes. In the name of Dowry, such crimes are committed which leads to loss of life.

Dowry deaths are highest in Uttar Pradesh

Deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide because of continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry is considered as Dowry death.

Statistics on dowry-related deaths in the country during the past 12 years from 2001 released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that over the years, the number of deaths have only increased.

A State wise break-up provided in the statistics show that the highest incidence of dowry deaths was in Uttar Pradesh in 2013. During the period, 23,824 dowry deaths were reported in U.P. and 19,702 sent for trial.

The conviction rate was always in the vicinity of 50 per cent in U.P. In fact, the number of dowry death cases acquitted was always much higher than those convicted in all the States.

In U.P. the dowry death figure was above 2,000 during most of the years of statistics period. As per the data, In India, Nagaland is the only State and Lakshadweep the only Union Territory where no dowry deaths were reported during the period.

Dowry Deaths in India and world

To no one's surprise, according to Indian National Crime Record Bureau, India has the highest number of dowry related deaths in the world. In 2010, 8391 dowry death cases were reported across India which means a bride was burned every 90 minutes, or dowry issues cause 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India. Even the United Nations reports a worldwide average female homicide rate of 3.6 per 100,000 women.

Dowry Law in India and its misuse

We expect laws to put curb on a particular wrong but at times instead of acting as a shield it becomes a weapon and is misused by many. And Anti-Dowry law is also one of them.

Even Supreme Court in one of its judgement had said that the 'Anti-Dowry Law' is being misused by 'Disgruntled Wives.' The Court had also said that no arrests will be made in such cases on mere lodging of a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

"The fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In quite a number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers
and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested," said the court.

The number of complaints regarding the misuse of anti-dowry law is continuously rising. Thus, the Government is mulling to introduce penal provisions in the Anti-Dowry act that will ensure punishment or penalty to those who make false charges.

And even the Union ministry of women and child development is also contemplating giving more teeth to the Dowry Prohibition Act by strengthening the existing provisions and widening the definition of 'dowry'.

It's not only law which can put a curb on such crimes even ‘we' have some responsibility towards society.

This ‘evil' named Dowry can only be removed from our society when we all come forward and participate in eliminating such evils from the country. The step taken by the Uttar Pradesh government seems to be a very positive gesture from the government's side. But this should not be restricted to only government employees rather everyone, every citizen of this country should be involved in this. And Uttar Pradesh has started it, now, even other state governments should follow suit and issue such directives to discourage dowry and restore the dignity of women in society.

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