interesting mail. i dont have time to write on this right now, but what do you guys think? or all of you young, unmarried, and therefore blissfully unaware of this sort of thing? :-)
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Date: Jan 19, 2006 10:44 PM
Subject: Please write a column on the gross misuse of dowry laws in India
I do not know if you will get time to read my mail. But I would like you to please write an article in rediff highlighting the gross misuse of dowry laws in India.
I am approaching you to write an article on the gross human right violations (harassment of husband and his family by wife and her relatives) in India and in the US (of person of Indian origin) in a marriage that has gone sour. One such article written by Lisa Tsering can be looked reached at: http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=768649893bc5975ce97b6bff5354c210
Influenced by women organizations and seeking women votes (vote-politics) Indian Government passed a law (known as section 498a) to eliminate the dowry problem in India. Passed by Indian Parliament in 1983, Indian Penal Code 498A, is a criminal law (not a civil law) which is defined as:
"Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extent to may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.
498a can only be invoked by wife/daughter-in-law or her relative. Most cases where Sec 498A is invoked turn out to be false (as repeatedly accepted by High Courts and Supreme Court in India) as they are mere blackmail attempts by the wife (or her close relatives) when faced with a crumbling marriage. In most cases 498a complaint is followed by the demand of huge amount of money (extortion) to settle the case out of the court. This section is non-bailable, non-compoundable (complaint can't be quashed) and cognizable (arrests without investigation or warrants). There have been countless instances where, without any investigation, the police has arrested elderly parents, unmarried sisters, pregnant sister-in-laws and 3 year old children. In these cases unsuspecting family of husband has to go through a lot of mental torture and harassment by the corrupt Indian legal system. A typical case goes on for years (5-7 years is typical) and the conviction rate is about 2% only. Some accused parents, sisters and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail.
The very nature of this anti-dowry law makes it wife-biased (daughter-in-law baised), discriminatory, stringent, unprecedented, exceptional and poorly formulated. This section of law has become a very powerful tool for misuse for the following reasons:
· Onus is on the husband and his family members to disprove the false allegations. Well how does anybody disprove that he did'nt try to extort money or he did'nt harass his wife.
· Even when the case is dismissed for lack of evidence or any other reason, the plaintiff cannot be sued for misuse of legal system.
· The first thing the police does in such a case is that it arrests the accused without bail. Bail can only be granted in a court hearing.
· This section of law was made to curb the practice of dowry, but the reality is that the section of population which it was supposed to protect is still unable to use this law, and on the other hand girls coming from a well educated, affluent families have found a potent tool to seek revenge in the case there is marital discord and is imminent to lead to a divorce.
Some of most common problems Indian husband has to go through are:
a) Passport is impounded so he cannot leave the country. There have been cases where non-resident Indians lost their jobs because they were held back in India and could not join their jobs back in the foreign land. Please check out the US department of state warning to people traveling to India for marriage related issues. http://communitydispatch.com/artman/publish/article_1754.shtml
b) A study done by WHO has found that this is one of the ways elders are abused in India. http://www.who.int/ageing/projects/elder_abuse/alc_ea_ind.pdf )
c) Husband or anyone named in the FIR (First Information report) who is in a government job loses his job (if he spends a single day in jail) as per the government policy.
d) Divorce has been a losing preposition for husband now especially because most of the divorce cases have 498a cases involved with them.
And it has especially affected Indians in the US, who are effluent, hardworking people who are in the US from various prestigious institutes like IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and earn good, people who would rather not get involved in all this mess which will only be detrimental to their lives and career.
Please visit http://www.498a.org to get a complete picture of this social menace which is termed as 'legal terrorism' by the Supreme Court of India. This website has almost all the information you need to write a balanced article to expose this problem. Please do not hesitate to reach me if I could be of any help to answer any of your questions. If you think there is someone else who may be better suited to represent this matter, please feel free to forward this mail to that person.
Waiting for you opinion and article in this matter.
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