Saturday, May 22, 2010

For a friend, by a friend.

Who said it can't be changed ? And what great victories has he to his credit which qualify him to judge others accurately - Napoleon Hill.

I was just saying adios to my family after the usual hour long skype call and was about to sleep. A friend pinged me
"Manu, can I talk to you. Are you busy?", she asked
I am never busy for a friend, so we talked. What she told me, freaked me.

She had a suspicion that her gmail account has been hacked by her in-laws, she wanted to know what she can do about it. She told me the whole story. It seems she is being treated poorly by her in laws for want of dowry. At first it was just verbal abuse. Now it has turned to occasional physical violence. She was not crying. As she says, "I don't cry anymore Manu, I have accepted this, I don't feel anything now".

Think about this girl, she could be anyone in your friends list. She used to have a job before marriage, she had to leave all that to be with this guy. This guy, he is not some weird guy, he holds respectable position in a very reputable company. Both are from typical middle class families. I am writing this, because she wanted me to tell her story, so that at least another girl won't have to go through what she has gone through. She wanted to tell how her family had took the pain to check the guy's background and how it came all clean. How no one told anything about him or family, though they knew all about this.The scariest part of it !!! The guy's family didn't even mention about dowry. Though she admits that they were curious, as to how much gold the parents were going to give to the girl ; but it was casual. The whole thing about gold being not enough, land to be transferred to her name, all started after marriage. Once the girl gets married, it is like a one way road unless you dare to get more hurt by the society.(more such stories about, about a divorcee in the links at the bottom of the page)

This is not the first story I have heard, but the previous ones hadn't come to the edge of physical abuse. I know a friend's friend, whose husband came to see their child once during birth and once during a ceremony. That is it, he didn't care about her well being or the child's, neither did his family. As I talk to more and more people, I hear new stories. Stories that are not disclosed for fear of shame.These are guys who look modern, with lucrative jobs, cooling glasses and supposedly well educated. They are friends with us, they are among our very own friends list. I guess being educated and being civilized are two different things that can get confused easily. I don't think, our educational system increases the morale in its disciples.

An awakening call to the guys and girls of my age. Do you really want to continue this tradition ? . For all you know, this might bite you back. Do we really need this. Don't we have enough problems already with caste, creed and religion.

I just want to warn the girls out there who are reading this, just make sure that guy's family background is good. If you ask enough people, you can find out enough. If no one says anything good, probably that is because they don't want to say anything bad . In case you can't do all this, there are successful detective agencies for that. I am not kidding, do you really want to play dice with your life ? The simple truth is, you do have the power to change it, say no to any guy or family who even remotely hints about money. You might have to wait longer, but you don't want to get into a spider's web do you?

I know the typical responses from guys, so I just want to give some preemptive answers
You are a guy right? What are you complaining about ? Paisa kittiya pullikkuvo ?

Paisa kittiya pulikkathonnum ella, but how many successful lottery winners do you know ? they have no clue what to do with the money. They end up spending it on alcohol and adultery. Only if you earn it, will it be useful to you. I guess very few people understand the difference between wealth and money. At least have a sense of self respect than to extort money from the girls poor parents. Do you think it is right to ask someone else money because they are marrying you to their dearest. The world around you will change, sooner or later you will be the one at the gun point. Would you stand and watch if this happens to your sister or cousin ?

And for those elderly people who might say Ninakku onnum ariyilla. Paisa-de vila enthannu ariyathathu kondu aanu engane okke parayunnathu. Kurachu kazhiyumbo manasilakum enthinanu njangalu angane paranjathu ennu. njagalu kurachu onam kooduthal undathu alle.

Just because people are elder doesn't mean they are wiser. They have seen a lot of life, I agree, but they still continue the very stupidity that their elder generation went through. And to think people younger to you know nothing of the world is the attitude of a frog in the well, come outside of the familiar tranquility of the home, see the world and tell me. And to say I haven't experienced poverty might not be completely true. I know the value of money and I have always earned it, the hard way. That is another story that my close friends can tell you.

I don't know how many will be laughing, how many will be sympathetic. Both doesn't change anything. If you believe that the system is wrong, that something needs to be changed then be that change. Do you remember the ad of that child pushing the heavy tree ?

the politicians run away, the police sleeps or stands helpless. It is time we do something. This is something that can be changed only by a community. Spread the word, talk to people, try to talk some sense into them. One of my friends is telling her views via facebook, twitter and her blog . it might change someone's attitude. Another is talking to his friends trying to convince them how this is bad. I convinced one guy, why dowry is bad ; what did you do today ?

Updates : Some things I read. It might kindle the fire in you as it did to me.

Thanks to all friends who are responding. If this helps to change atleast one person's viewpoint about dowry, then I would consider that she passed on a message to the world.


Shiny said...

Dowry is a sad part of the system in India. Its high time we eradicate it! Sad to see even the educated follow it to get free easy money behind the veil of marriage.

Vivek said...

It is sad to know that such things still prevail..

I always thought boys of our generation (with the quality education and life style) will be reasonable and the problems with dowry will soon be a myth...

But as you said.. "civilization is not something that can be developed by our system of education"


Manu said...

I don't think it is the problem from guy's perspective alone. As long as people accept to be exploited, there will be exploiters. I think it takes more than guts to say no to proposals with dowry attached to it.

SPV said...

1. Gals family who r financially stable r willing to offer car/house and all. This worst mentality has lead us till here.They shud put a full stop to it.

2.Why an educated gal be willing for such a marriage if the foundation itself is built completely on "money"? The business mentality towards marriage need to b eradicated.

Our educational system has the power to bring up a good civilization. But it shud b understood and followed in the way it truly meant.

Anonymous said...

Such uncivilized issues of Dowry still exist in the system because of small cracks we have in our generation. I mean, although many of us(boys and girls) equally hate this concept, few bloody buggers(Pardon, my language) let these age old customs still leak into our generation. As you said creating awareness through facebook or twitter doesn't help. Kick them so hard and punish them using the legal system, make it a punishable offense and any such cases should be promptly reported and taken further. "Fear" is the only way to instill awareness in minds of such inhuman creatures and stop their stupid acts.

Meanwhile my heart goes out to the poor girl who has no choice. But, wait is it really a no choice situation for her? I don't think so, tell her not to accept this, not crying is good but not enough. Bring that guy out publicly, at least using our reach we can create a campaign probably on the web and get many people to support it. Lets bring shame to this guy and his family, let us teach that bugger a lesson.

Manu said...

@Sandeep, I don't know da. I mean maybe it will all get solved out.If she is afraid to tell her friends what is going on, then you can imagine how she feels about telling the world about it.When the dust settles, what remains is she and her family to help her. I will ask her to comment anonymously, to speak about her views.

@SPV "it shud be understood and followed in the way it truly meant." I would like to hear more about your suggestions.

Aswin S said...

You have raised a valid point, but these days it has become so so common that people have started to accept it as a part of "system". Not sure for how long/strong/widespread an attempt we can make to eradicate this. But we should definitely raise voice and help if someone close to us is going through this

Unknown said...

Well written Manu. What you said is right.'As long as people accept to be exploited, there will be exploiters'. The problem is with Indian girls is that they are spoonfed with the fact that husband and husband's family are her Gods, irrespective of how they treat her and her parents. And it is very much disturbing that even the girls of our generation adhere to that. As long as the girls themselves do not take the first step against such exploitations, this will continue. They should first shed the thought "aalkkkar enthu vicharichum". Because no one "naattukaar" will come for her help . Only her family and friends will be there. Another point is that, if she wants to leave her job after marriage, she should never leave her job unless and untill she is sure about her husband and in-laws.

Manu, give courage to your friend and ask her to react. She has a whole lifetime infront.

Anonymous said...

Testing Anonymous comments.

Manu said...

Good article and an important issue. I too think education and standing in society have nothing to do with it. Exposure to other cultures don't help either. Dowry increases many folds for people working abroad. everyone is aware that it is evil and that it is illegal. It is not enough to spread awareness among our gen... the parents and other elders are the real culprits and unless their outlook is changed this will continue. Our gen needs to grow balls to take a stand against our elders and to be less greedy. (a related issue- selective abortions among uk indians

suma sujeet said...

Its one of the most common yet hushed practices that is still followed in our country. I agree with your point about people who are willing to be exploited.. then there will be exploiters.. I think it is also for the girls to say no to a proposal with dowry. I believe if the girl just refuses to get married by giving dowry then the parents cannot force her. When a relationship starts with a thing such as dowry, it can only get worse.the demands will never end. Speaking from one such personal experience i would say its not the education system that will help.One of the proposals was from a really good family with parents who were teachers, who were demanding for car n house etc..parents are in a dilemma when they see a good educated guy with a good background. However it was my call to say No. I think it was one of the best decisions i had taken yet. Meanwhile on a positive note, there are such guys who don't believe in all is not lost in the world.
I do feel sorry for your friend who is caught in this impossible situation, however if she has some kind of support ( friends n family) she should speak up and end this torment rather than endure it all her life.. I wish her happiness and strength.

Prashob's blog said...

I agree with the comments of SPV..
At the middleclass level the problem is at both the sides..

Both the boy n the girl are being treated like a commodity.

The boy having the highest degree, credentials gets the most offer (like in dog auction house)..

OTOH, the girl whose father offers the highest package gets to seal the deal..

The solution will require our society to mature to new heights..

As for this particular case, no solution is possible without causing damage to the girl (damage as perceived by the society)..And it would be really bold of her to take a stand and not buckle down..

I hope everyone whom she cares about supports her in doing the right thing.That will make her life much much better.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Manu, thanks to your blog. I am aged 61 and is a victim of dowry. My daughter is married to a well educated engineer boy,having a post-graduate degree well settled with my daughter abroad. We belongs to a middle class family. Before marriage her in-laws were in good relationship with us and they behaved decently.But after marriage they weighed the gold and started harrassing me and my daughter demanding more gold and for landed property. I have given more than what I agreed before marriage (In almost all middle class families a system prevails- they will not ask dowry but will ask what will you give to your daughter)When the the boy went to workplace the first thing they did was my daughter is not allowed to communicate with us and not permitted to visit our(her)home. However my daughter abroad with him after giving more gold and registering the land. Here all the problems are faced by us from her father-in-law and no harrassment from mother-in-law as usual. The condition now prevails that we are not allowed to contact her over phone. She is permitted to call us once in a week. Thoug he is educated he is the most obedient son of a ------father. So we used communicate through chat. Now it has also been put an end, because they hacked both of us email and got copied&printed our chat details and now harassing with the printed copy of the chat details. I do not know what to do now. Can you help me by giving your's and your friends advice, but without hurting my daughter's life.

Manu said...

Hi, I would have preferred to mail you or talk in private. Since both has the risk of being seen than this blog, I would suggest my opinion here as a comment.

I don't like the idea that she has to go through all these trouble to talk with her parents. But,if talking to her is the only issue,right now.There are a couple of options.
1. I hear that she has a lot of friends there, maybe they can help her get a mobile and sim.
2. Use a different ID and talk to her over gmail or skype.

From what I understand, he is rough and acts this way only when his dad asks him to and also she doesn't want to leave him even after all this mess. So maybe things will get better.

If he is physically abusing her, then I think the best thing for her to do is to come back to her parents and hope that it will get some sense into him. I don't think he will want to risk his reputation in the society as a guy who treats his wife like this.
In any case please give her as much morale support as you can.If she feels she can't bear it anymore, please be supportive.
But again as I said, anyone can give opinions. Only someone who is going through this will know what the pain is like.We can only give opinions uncle, she and you will have to make the decisions.

de Salvi said...

excellent blog Manu. I believe that dowry usually goes hand in hand with arranged marriages. If we change how arranged marriages work, maybe we can eradicate dowry. I am aware that to make this change in the uneducated strata of the society is really difficult but otherwise our generation can and should bring about this change. Arranged marriages should not be decided by the families but instead the girl and guy should spend few months knowing each other before committing to this life changing decision. Then the marriage will become more about the couple rather than their families. And I stand by your point that girls should straight away reject any proposals, no matter how respected the other family is, on the slightest hint of dowry.
I am not aware of or heard of dowry incidents occurring in love marriages. But I am sure, they exist. In either case, families who ask for dowries should be publicly defamed and ridiculed. We now have powerful tools of social networking at our disposal. Media is also very accessible now a days. The girls have a life of their own to live and in today's date they should not be worried about the society judging them.
For the scenarios like your friends, she should not be ashamed to speak out. She should not tolerate physical abuse and should report the incident to the police. Again, she should not be concerned about the society judging her. She has her own individual existence, her own life to live. If the harassment continues and if her in laws do not come to their senses and her husband fails to see her pain, she should not hesitate to divorce him and separate herself from such a family.

Samy said...

Good to see that this blog is trying to help someone in need. In the case of Uncle's daughter, I think the son has a big role to play. Talking to him and making him understand about the situation is important. After all his first priority should be his wife's happiness. He is being a slave to his parents and fears that his parents will be hurt if he tries to support his wife. I think Uncle should try to talk to him. (My assumption is that he is a sensible guy who understands things) He belongs to the present generation who are taught that these are crimes. He has no authority to ask for something his wife's father made through hard work. Shame on him.
If she cant bear it and if he too is cruel and shameless, I think she should take some action. She has all the right to be happy.
May God be with her.

Anonymous said...

She is great!

Anonymous said...

Women are not the sole victims.

Unknown said...

Time for revolution in our society!!!!

Stop the show off during the marriage by wearing lot of ornaments, inviting thousands of people etc. Divert that fund for some noble cause! Make it as a simple one as possible.

Don't agree to do away ones self reliance even after the marriage.

React well, in an intelligent way!

Women are not slaves! You have the right to express. It's your life, don't make it as a hell.

Think well, decide quickly!

Anonymous said...

My parents had a love marriage. And they did suffer for what they did. They are intercaste from traditionally warring factions. Each had experienced alienation from their parents. They were left out from some important decisions that happened in the family and they were treated unfairly when it came to inheritance etc. As usual the siblings who are supposed to help them during such hardship took advantage of the situation. Gradually rift started happening between them for one reason or another. My father now feels like he made a mistake in his life by not listening to his parents.
Now, I like a girl. But my parents are opposing that relationship. They are saying that she is not good enough for me. I will get a much better girl. What do they mean by much better girl? A girl who understands me better or a girl who's family can give more money to me? They are insisting that I should not make the same mistake that they did. What ever feeling I am having for that girl is not permanent and it will change once the freshness is gone. Then why do you want to risk your life, when you can get a good girl from a good family and with the material comforts which will follow with this arranged package deal. Why settle for less? (Pls read also as: Why should my son suffer like I did?)
See how two persons who dared to make a difference suffered and how the same people who dared to change, became the proponents who are opposing the change they endorsed some time ago. That is how society suffocates people to conform to its norm. I am trying to throw light to the case why it is not easy to change this mindset on dowry. It may haunt you until you break down.
Of course I realise that my parents were not strong hearted enough to persevere with their ideologies. I defend them on the fact that they were made to suffer a lot, long after the marriage for not sticking to the norms or “listen to the elders”. I respect them for the fact that they did do what is right and helped in adding momentum to the change.
Note that it is not just the guy’s parents who are demanding dowry, the girls family too is ready to spend in their maximum capacity so that their daughters will get the best husband. They will come up with the sad stories only after they realise what they had been using as a tool (to get a good alliance) backfires. Otherwise they will continue to use it as if it is the best method. It’s a never ending vortex.
P.S: After all, this is an all material world

Krish said...

Well written and absolutely true.
The society got to find and accept better ways of transferring wealth!.
Using ones daughter your wife or sister as a commodity and bargaining over marriage is barbaric!!.. Infact even they would have not done this.

If you want it, earn it. Dont marry it!.

Good work Dude. Keep it up. Rise up to it guys and gals!!.. Educate the world around you.

SPV said...

Hi Manu,
I will just brief on my thoughts:

1. See education will just tell you whats right and whats wrong. But you are the only one who need to select which one you want. There is no use of talking so much about dowry and accepting it when it comes to our life. Live a good life and show the society that you did this witout even a single penny from ur in-laws.

2. Now if a society itself is commoditizing you in marriage business, lets bring a change and don't try to be part of that. Even if gals parents are ready to pay you lakhs, don't accept it. Bride is not a commodity and don't ever believe that the more money u get, the best bride also u gets. Don't ever rate a gal based on the money.

3. Don't finalize the marriage all of a sudden. Enquire about guys backgrnd and abt his family, let ur daughter talk to him for somewhile before its finalized. If you give ur daughters phone number or if she meets the guy 1or 2 times b4 marriage also nothing gonna happen. We used to have a wrong belief that its gonna affect our so called "Culture". It's not tat difficult to understand a guy/gal if you talk with him/her for sometimes, until and unless he is a big fraud.

4. Also all guys/gals, its really gud to obey ur parents. But u hav ur own identity and dnt try to loose that and follow a wrong path even if ur parents urge u to. They r also individuals like us who can be wrong/right. So think and act. Don't blindly accept everything only bcoz they are your parents and you love them.You should and must love your parents, but it should not be done by spoiling someone else life bcoz it ruins the mere purpose of tat love.

Anonymous said...

Dear Manu, Again I am the anonymous uncle.Thanks for your reply. 2 months back my daughter and her husband was in Kerala for a week's holiday. But her in-laws & he himself did not allow her to visit our home and did not permit us to meet her. So she visited us without their permission. Then the in-laws had taken a stand that they do not want her to join him. But after interference by a friend of me, she again went with him abroad. Now she says that he wanted to cut off all connections with us, then only he can take care of her. But he allowed her to talk with us once in a week, i.e. on Friday. But he will not come to our phone. She now says that during their next visit to Kerala she will certainly come to her home to meet us and if they hesitates she will approach the 'Womens Commission'.Anyhow I am proud of my daughter for her courage to tell him that if he harass her for further dowry or start physical torture she will certainly inform the UAE police, where it is a big crime torturing women. She is of the opinion that the in-laws want only his money because he is having good salary and every month he is sending huge amount to them according to their demand. But she is not bothered of that. She wants a good family living and good relationship with us by him and the in-laws. I hope that things will go better in future, because God is grate.

Manu said...

hi uncle, ya she told me that she is doing much better now. I am sure she will be fine. I guess she was just worried if she is doing right or wrong. Now she is much clearer, atleast I feel so. So hopefully things will get better.

rajendran said...


According to Section 1.(2) of the Information Act, 2000 – “ it shall extend to the whole of India and save as otherwise provided in the Act, it applies also to any offence or contravention there under committed outside India by any person
According to clause (t) of sub-section 1 of section 2 of the I T Act,2000 “Electronic Record” means data, recorded or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer generated micro fiche.”
Sec. 43. If any person without permission of the owner or any other person who is in charge of a computer or computer system or computer network, ------
(a) accesses or secure access to computer, computer system or computer network;
(b) downloads, copies or extracts any data, computer data base or information from such computer, computer system or computer network including information or data held or stored in any removable storage medium;
(c) x x x x x ;
(d) x x x x x ;
(e) disrupts or causes disruption of any computer, computer system or computer network
(f) x x x x x ;
(g) provides any assistance to any person to facilitate access to a computer, computer system or computer network in contravention of this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder;
(h) x x x x x ;
he shall be liable to pay by way of compensation not exceeding one crore rupees to the person so affected.
Explanation.---For the purpose of this section,---------
(i) “computer contaminant” means any set of computer instructions that are designed--------(a) to modify, destroy, record, transmit data or programme residing within a computer, computer system or computer network; or
(ii) “computer data base” means a representation of information, knowledge facts, concepts or instructions in text, image, audio, vedio that are being prepared or have been prepared in a formalized manner or have been produced by a computer, computer system or computer network;
Sec. 66. Hacking with computer system
(1) Whoever with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or delete or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commits hack;
(2) Who ever commits hacking shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine which may extend upto two lakh rupees, or with both.
Sec. 70. Protected system (3) Any person who secures access or attempts secure access to a protected system in contravention of the provisions of this section shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

rajendran said...

Part II

Sec. 72. Penalty for breach of confidentiality and privacy:
Save as otherwise provided in this Act or any other law for the time being in force, any person who, in pursuance of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rule or regulations made thereunder, has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material to any other person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extent to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.
Sec. 75. Act to apply for offence or contravention committed outside India.
(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) the provisions of this Act shall apply also to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person irrespective of his nationality.
(2) For the purpose of sub-section (1), this Act shall apply to an offence or contravention committed outside India by any person if the act or conduct constituting the offence or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.
Sec. 78. Power to investigate offences.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police shall investigate any offence under this Act.
Sec. 80. Power of Police Officer and other offences to enter, search, etc.
Notwithstanding contained in the code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any police officer, not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, or any other officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorized by the Central Government in this behalf may enter any public place and search and arrest without warrant any person found therein who is reasonably suspected or having committed or of committing or of being about to commit any offence under this Act.

Manu said...

@Rajendran. Thank you. I will certainly ask her to take a look at this.