Thursday, 29 September 2011

Why are parents of girls' silent spectators

Yesterday's Times of India carried the shocking story of how a doctor reportedly murdered his well educated wife. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Doctor-murders-wife-in-Delhi-drives-1000km-to-dump-body-in-Ganga/articleshow/10150504.cms).  

The story further states a few important points - both families were from Jharkhand and from the same profession, the fathers did have some common links and there was already a doubt about the reputation of the boy and his family even before the marriage. But once the marriage took place, apparently the pointers that something was drastically wrong were strong enough – not only were there difficulties in the marriage, the girl was not even being enough to eat, she had been admitted to a mental hospital, the husband was violent enough to have been reported to the police several times – apparently therefore everyone knew that matters were extreme. Now the actual facts are known only to the people involved and will perhaps be better understood as police enquiries get underway, but here I am presuming that the above is correct.

The whole appalling episode raises the fundamental issue of the role of the girls’ parents in such cases. While prima facie the very raison d’etre for the wedding to take place is not clear, it can be assumed that the initial reservations and misgivings were not strong, and benefit of doubt can be given. But what about thereafter? The parents of the girl had also not cast her away / disinherited her. Like all good parents they encouraged their daughter to try and make a success of the marriage – not to give in just because the going was not as good as it should have been. But is this their sole role and does their duty and obligation end here? The clues were not just pointers giving an inkling of something wrong – there was clear evidence that the matter was serious. The girl was well educated and professionally too at that – this was surely adequate for the parents to feel that she could, with their support, create a life for herself. And when she had also received a good job offer, the parents knew that she could become financially self supporting. She was an only child – her returning back to the family fold would not have adversely impacted the life and opportunities of younger sisters. So what held them back from extending their full support to their daughter?

In general, and in Indian society in particular, the position of the girl and her parents still continues to be subordinate. But to what extent and for how long should they keep quiet. Do they not have any responsibility towards their daughter once she is married? And why did the daughter put up with this situation - she knew she could become independent.  As a woman and the mother of a professional daughter, I wish she had had the confidence to step out and make a life for herself. But coming back to the parents – I feel very strongly that they abdicated their responsibilities. And when a girl and her parents have been given strong legal rights vis-a-vis the boy’s side in dowry cases, why not enforce their responsibilities legally.
We need a wakeup call for the parents of girls. As a woman and the mother of a girl, I ask – along with the boy, why not charge the girl’s parents with abetment to murder? Maybe then the fear of action, of jail, of real social dishonour, will overcome their fear of social stigma on the mere failure of the marriage of their daughter. And maybe in future, the parents of girls will hesitate in being only spectators.

1 comment:

  1. yes, the girl's parents could have avoided this situation if they wanted to. if they had not bothered about 'what will the neighbors say?' 'what will happen to our other children?'etc etc. this shows a general lack of education in our country. not school education, but morals, values. it is the old fashioned thinking that the girl is married, and now she has to live her life, its none of our business, we cant interfere. if the parents had wanted their daughter's happiness, they could have got her out of her hell. the daughter, too, was'nt independant enough to take any action on her own.
    one easy and a vital step towards remedying this problem is to see that the girls definitely work for a time, before marriage. this way they will get a sense of their own worth, and be able to step out on their own, should circumstances so demand. they will not be a burden on their parents but be economically independant.
    But yes, these parents should be shunned by society, and the same stigma be attached to them, as the parents of the groom, who demand dowry. its a sin to commit a crime, an equal sin to tolerate that crime, and a bigger sin to turn a blind eye to the crime, when something could have been done to avoid it.

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