Indian Penal Code 498A- a criminal law that seeks to defend victims of dowry harassment. That seeks to bring justice to all those who have been harassed in regard to this age old social evil.
So where does the problem lie?
With its nasty misuse.
When a man is dragged to a court for a crime he never committed. When mothers who were the happiest at their son’s marriage, now refuse to believe he lives no more. When the occasion supposed to be one’s dream come true, turns the worst nightmare of their life.
Statistics show that about 10,000 of the total cases registered every year under this act are false. It’s sad that a law so beneficiary in nature has been reduced to something now used by people ‘to settle scores’. Dowry is not only looked down upon (obviously when somebody else accepts it. “We never take dowry, we take gifts”), but is also unacceptable, morally and legally. One false case and a plethora of disgust and social distress is brought down upon a happy family.
Men caught in this vicious trap are subjected to the obvious mental torture and the social humiliation that springs up because of the regular police interventions. The torment is further inflicted on their families, who are named as accomplices in the crime.
Men have been known to end their lives in order to escape the never ending consequences of the false cases. What they leave behind are their families- their families that are either left with hollow eyes that refuse to see the world, or highly determined eyes that refuse to settle till real justice is delivered.
The lives of the latter, the people fighting the abuse of this law has been being chronicled in the documentary, ‘Martyrs of Marriage’. The film seeks to bring into light the severe victimization of several women, men and senior citizens. It tells their stories and talks about their battles- while bringing into view all that these families have lost and all that their support movement stands against.
For it’s not just about that one false dowry case.
That one night in a prison cell.
Those three insulting sentences.
It’s also about that one life it took away.
And those several others it left destroyed.