Instead of holding our heads up in pride for a 28 year old girl whose papers were getting published in International Journals, we are bowing down our heads to pay her our respects. More than anything else we are bowing down our heads in shame. Shame that we were not able to value her for who she was. Shame that there are still families in India who want a girl to bring dowry when she gets married. Shame on the people who still think that dowry is a tradition, shame on those who accumulate money to pay dowry and shame on those men who don’t have the self respect to marry a girl with money backing her up.
My heart is clenching with anger as I am writing this. Manjula Devak, a 28 year old research scholar from IIT Delhi, just started to live her dream. Her Facebook profile is something which can give girls goals for life. Posing, travelling, pouting, she did it all like any other happy, bubbly girl. Her mentors said that she was one of the most brilliant students they had. Her papers were getting published in International Journals. She was the author of two book chapters and three more of her papers are still pending approval. Then what happened that she found suicide to be her rescue?
On the day of her funeral, her father was reported saying to the Hindustan times, ” It was a mistake to educate my daughter and send her to IIT. I should have saved all the money for dowry.”
Her husband wanted to start a business of his own and wanted her to quit her research. For funding his business, he wanted his wife to bring 20 lacks from her parents as dowry. Today, his wife is no more and he is a free man once again. In this trade of marriage who won?
Why didn’t she divorce him? Her mother said, that she asked her daughter to file for a divorce but Manjula feared that her family’s reputation will be compromised if she took such a decision.
Why? Why did she marry him in the first place? She had a brilliant career, dreams to follow. Then why did she choose to marry at an age of 24? Well, you would be surprised to know what her father said to this. He said, “Because their horoscopes matched perfectly.”
She tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists in 2015 too but the matter was not escalated then. She was given a picture of how her younger brother and sister will face the consequences of her decision. But she couldn’t bear it anymore. On May 29, she hung herself and ended her life. She killed all of her ambitions with her and left her silence behind.
I am not writing this today to bring tears to your eyes for a moment. I am writing this to tell the thousands of women out there, that you are more empowered than this. I can’t even begin to imagine what state of mind she must have been in. We say that we are moving towards being modern, we are educating ourselves for a better approach to life. Then why is it that we are still making women suffer for dowry? Why is it that a girl getting a package of 24 lacks per annum, is asked to bring an Audi with herself? Why is it that a boy’s family is incompetent that they can’t buy a fridge or a TV on their own? Do they just wait for their son’s marriage to refurnish their house? Why is it that it’s girl’s father’s responsibility to give his daughter and his son in law a bed to sleep in? Is the boy so poor or is he just playing greedy? And in both the cases is it right for you to give your precious daughter in the hands of someone you know are blinded by money?
There are hundreds of questions which run through my mind when I read that one more woman succumbed to these horribly woven traditions of ours. When and how will we find an escape is beyond my imagination. All these social reforms, our constant fights to have equal rights fail when we realize that women are not even considered human. It’s high time we change our mindsets and start realizing that women are an integral part of what the mankind is. They are the axis on which the prosperity of a family revolves. Learn to respect them before you loose them.