THE NEWS IN PROPORTION
21 October 2014
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The No-Dowry Society
Entrenched problems must be fought comprehensively and systemcatically

Perhaps the first thing one can say about dowry and crimes stemming from this practice is that the diligent efforts of concerned people can make a difference. True, this is a problem that is often unseen, and the victims are trapped in the environs of their families without much public recourse. Worse still, there is wide-spread tolerance among the people, if they don't actively encourage it, they at least condone it as normal, whatever that means. Most of us who have thought about the problem recognize its apparent evil, but are not sure what we can do to eliminate it. In these pages, we will explore the answers to that question.

The entrenched malaise can be fought at two levels: first, our convictions must drive us not to participate in its perpetuation, i.e., we must ourselves avoid this practice. But that's the easy part, in some ways. The second, ensuring that this attitude is passed on to the rest of the nation, is far more difficult, and must be fought systematically comprehensively. This means that we must encourage better legislation, urge greater punishment, fund proper rehabilitation centers and services, educate girls more, and many other things. These changes are not wrought overnight, but they can be addressed, if we begin well.

The International Society Against Dowry and Bride-Burning in India was formed and incorporated in 1993. In February 1995, the Society received Tax-exempt status from Internal Revenue Service of the Government of the USA. The "purposes" of the Society are mani-fold:

  • to arouse public awareness against the evil of dowry and bride-burning in India
  • to provide medical assistance to the victims of these crimes
  • to provide legal and judicial assistance to the victims
  • to provide shelter and to educate, train and find jobs for such victims and foster their rehabilitation into social life,
  • to provide shelter and to educate, train and find jobs for potential brides in India and help them avoid paying dowry for marriage
  • to carry on all other activities to accomplish the foregoing purposes.
Six-point program to fight dowry
  • MAJOR ECONOMIC PROGRAM: LONG TERM PLAN:

    * Enforce mandatory education of females for financial independence and autonomy

    * Originate a "Service Loan Fund" to provide low-interest loans to wage-earning males who wish to pay-off their parents thereby preventing the possibility of parents' claim of dowry as a compensation of expenses in raising and educating their sons.

    * Originate an "Old Age Fund" in India to finance old people thereby eliminating their dependency upon their sons.

  • NATIONAL SUPPORT GROUPS: LONG TERM PLANS:

    * Organize and operate "Students Against Dowry" mutual support groups for male and female students and fresh graduates (i) to promote the resolve of refusal of marriage if there is a dowry, & (ii) to support their struggle against parental pressure for demand/acceptance/giving of dowry.

    * Organize and operate "Parents Against Dowry" mutual support groups of parents (i) who oppose the dowry system, & (ii) whose daughters have been victims of dowry.

  • RESEARCH AND MASS COMMUNICATION: LONG TERM PLAN:

    * Promote research to identify and diagnose the dowry problem in India, hold interviews, group/panel discussions, meetings, seminars, conferences, internet discussions, and recommend legal, psychological, spiritual and social remedies to eradicate the evil of dowry and bride-burning.

    * Promote mass communication and education programs to publicize anti-dowry ideology through drama, music, movies, radio and television programs, books, periodicals, journals, handbills, and other audio-visual media.

  • MICRO-ECONOMIC APPROACH: LONG TERM PLAN:

    * This item will be developed to diagnose the dowry problem by micro-economic studies and recommend ways and means to combat the subtle micro-economic forces like demand, supply, greed, etc. which sustain the dowry problem.

  • LEGAL APPROACH: LONG TERM PLAN:

    * Reformative Law: Reform Indian legal system to enforce a daughter's inheritance rights to the estates of her parents, forefathers and other ancestors.

    * Preventive Law: Enhance Indian legal system to declare a marriage null and void as soon as dowry is demanded, and compensate the divorced bride with the half of the estate of her ex-husband.

  • IMMEDIATE LIFE-SAVING MECHANISM.

    * Construct dignified, high-rise, secured and protected buildings in a number of towns/cities in India and operate "Job Center for Dowry Victims" equipped with telephone hot-lines, attended by speciaists trained to handle distress calls, where a dowry victim will receive effective security, respectable accommodation, food and clothing, legal protection, medical care, psychological and spiritual care, sports & recreational facilities, study material and a job-oriented training till she is qualified to find a job and qualified to lead a financially independent life.

    * Construct dignified, high-rise, secured and protected buildings for financially independent, working women.

Other groups working to eliminate dowry and make women's lives better

Contributions to other organizations working in specific areas can be channeled through ISADBBI. The following groups have been specifically identified by ISADBBI as deserving of financial and other support.

  • Women's Action Research & Legal Action for Women (WARLAW): led by Attorney Rani Jethmalani of New Delhi, this is a group of dedicated attorneys who provide free legal protection and assistance to the dowry victims in India.

  • Lavanyamoyee Craft Centre, Tezpur, Assam : led by Ms Upama Barua, this is a group of volunteers who help women to be self-supporting by training them in crafts like knitting, sewing, embroidery, etc. They have requested us to donate a few sewing machines, embroidery machines, and an electrical generator. Small donations are most welcome.

  • Niradhar Mahila Sahayata Samitee, Khare Town, Nagpur, Madhya Pradesh: led by Mr. Prabhakar Kulkarni, this group runs a small shelter home for helpless women. They need funds for food, medical help, training, etc.

Are you newly-wed or getting married?
  • First things first, congratulations!, and the very best to you.
  • Write to ISADBBI to say that your wedding is taking place without the taint of dowry.
  • If you can, please consider making a contribution to ISADBBI on this joyous occasion. Perhaps, with your help, other women in India can attain their right to a marriage where they are considered equal with the men they wed.


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