“Hamay aapki beti, apne bete ke liye pasand hai, chaliye ab Len den ki baat kar lete hai” , the moment a girl’s family happily agrees to these words is the moment when the girl’s family pushes her into the abyss of hardships entailing mental as well as physical torture. Some “Len den” people might be satisfied when the girl’s family meets their demands, no questions asked, while the other lot never seem to get enough and look at the girl as a blank check which can be en-cashed as many times as they want to. Torture this “blank check” and here comes the money for their son’s business, threaten the blank check and here comes the car for their son’s travel and if nothing works just BURN the check and move on. How disgustingly convenient!!! In this so called “modern” society of ours, things might have changed on the surface but the core of our ideologies is still as infected as it was hundreds of years ago. We might have changed in appearance but our approach remains the same. Why is it that the well educated parents of even better educated daughters are still worried about their dowries? Why isn’t the daughter herself thought of as the biggest gift her father could give? Why are the unreasonable demands of the groom’s family met? Why are they looked upon as if they have done the biggest of favors by marrying their son to someone’s daughter? Why are the daughters tortured, abused and burnt? Why?? The only answer that I can think of is that our society even in the 21st century suffers from sheer ideological and intellectual backwardness where a daughter’s birth is as bad as someone’s death! I wonder how this beautiful tradition of exchanging gifts to foster love among new relatives changed into something so demonic that the mere mention of gifts is enough give the girl’s father nightmares. I believe as a society we all have failed the girl child. She has to struggle in every phase of her life. If that’s not enough even her marriage is nothing short of a business arrangement for the groom’s family where the highest bidder gets the son-in-law. How ironic is it that the society which boasts of having empowered it’s women, falls silent when questions about the dowry system are put forth. The only reply we can expect it that “aisa hi hota”! Don’t you think it’s high time time we ponder over “aisa kyu hota hai”? As a society we need to come forth to totally eradicate this evil and for this a number of steps have to be taken. We can begin by saying a complete NO to any kind of give and take, unless it’s something a father happily wants to give to his daughter, not anything under the pressure of the society. We have to ensure that we in no way feel inferior to the groom’s family, to respect them is wonderful but to be disrespected by them should be totally unacceptable. We should not give in to any illegitimate demands and never compromise with the bride’s dignity. The government too needs to ensure stricter laws so that no one ever dares to look at a girl as some money minting machine. We need to understand that every girl expects her wedding to be something out of a fairy-tale but with the noose of dowry around her neck, not only her dreams and dignity but she herself dies a silent death too. ——————– About the Author: This article is contributed by Uroosa Wani, our intern.