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Lieve Snellings | all galleries >> for Peace and Justice >> DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 2009 - DOCHTERS VAN VUUR - FILLES DU FEU >> Daughters of Fire - Indian Women's Court >> 07 - The Changing Forms of Dowry Violence > Jigyasa
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28-JUL-2008 © Lieve Snellings


Bangalore, Karnataka, India


Jigyasa, Madhya Pradesh Harassment for Dowry

I, Jigyasa got married to Rajesh Kumar on 20 February 2005 in Bhopal. It was a love cum arranged marriage supported by both the parents. Before marriage Rajesh and I had very good understanding on issues related to my work and lifestyle. Rajesh knew from beginning that I was not a ‘traditional wife’ and would not perform the "so called" duties of a wife as assigned by the patriarchal society. In addition to this, before the marriage, our parents had discussed at length about my openness and free nature and other attributes which amply well establish that I am an independent spirit.

Apart from this, it was made clear before the marriage itself that I would be pursuing post graduation in social work and would work for the society as per my interest. Rajesh and his family consented on every matter before the marriage but their actual intention was something else. After marriage, when I went to my in-laws place, there were restraints on issues such as clothes, standing on the gate, talking to neighbors and talking in English. I didn't know cooking and wasn't comfortable doing it either, but still I tried my best to cook for them. On slightest of mistakes, I was subjected to taunts and remarks about my family. Rajesh’s attitude was non co-operative all through.

My in-laws thought that as I was the only daughter and if my parents had the money to send me to Kerala for studies, they would definitely get five lakhs and an Alto Car as dowry! Apart from that, I could be used to run American English Coaching Centre in Haryana and earn more money. When both of these aspirations seemed to fail, there began my ordeal of mental, physical and sexual torture. My in-laws also tried their best to keep me away from my husband. After my marriage, I wasn't even allowed to talk to Rajesh alone and we were not allowed to go out together! If at times, I urged Rajesh for an outdoor trip, he would decline for the fear of opposition from his family members. On one such occasion, there was a heated argument between me and Rajesh, after which he went to his mother and asked her to save him from me! I was also branded as a witch who practiced magic and I had lured him into this treacherous relationship! This was a direct assault on my dignity. Since I was an undergraduate at the time of marriage, I requested my family members and Rajesh to allow me to come to Bhopal and complete my course of MSW. Despite their refusal, I came to Bhopal to complete my studies. In the meantime, I used to visit my in-laws place during my studies and I got pregnant. I wanted to give birth to the child but Rajesh wanted me to abort it. When I informed my in-laws about my pregnancy, there was an apathetic response from them. In fact, all through my pregnancy, they didn't even bother to inquire about me.

I gave birth to the child through caesarian operation in Bhopal and the entire expenses were borne by my parents. One time, I felt, where a women needs her husband most, is during pregnancy and there was no effort from him to know about my condition. Later, after six months, they came to meet me and the child.

I explained all the trauma that I went through during my stay in Haryana with my in-laws to my parents. On hearing this, they my parents tried to talk to Rajesh. He kept repeating that I would have to change myself according to the norms of his family. As this matter was discussed between us before our marriage, I didn't concede to his forceful demands. Still, several counseling sessions with lawyers and marriage counselors were organized but to vain. At last, on 29th November, 2008, after a long period of almost four years, I launched an FIR against dowry in Bhopal (Mahila Thana, Jahangirabad).

Rajesh was arrested and then released on bail. Rajesh’s Father and Aunt (Father’s sister) took anticipatory bail. The challan has reached the court. Presently, I am staying with my son and parents in Bhopal and I am working with an NGO.

The greedy in-laws have spoiled my life and has made me stand alone surrounded with millions of questions. Just after the marriage, Rajesh got a private job and now he is a central government employee in BHEL (Purchase Officer). Rajesh’s family and Rajesh himself thinks that he is more ‘expensive’ now and can get heavy dowry.

Note: According to Rajesh’s family, giving heavy dowry is in the culture of Harayana and for a boy like Rajesh who is earning so well, there is a huge queue of brides with a good amount of dowry.

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