Dowry victim from Uttar Pradesh loses faith in legal system and asks President’s permission to kill self and daughter
By Team FI
Twenty nine year old Alpana Pandey, who hails from a poor family in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has written to the President of India, to allow euthanasia for her and her 5-year-old daughter. The reason – she and her daughter have been deserted by her husband because her family could not furnish the dowry he demanded.
Alpana married Alok Pandey in 2005 and at the time of the marriage, her family had given some gold and money as dowry. In 2006, a year after her marriage, Alpana’s husband and her father-in-law allegedly began pressurising her to give a dowry of Rs 10 lakh. When Alpana’s father said that he could not afford to give such a large amount, she was allegedly starved by her husband’s family. According to the social worker, it was at this time that they came to know of her pregnancy. Her father-in-law insisted that she go in for a sex-determination test and when they found out that the foetus was female, Alpana was thrown out of her marital home. She and her daughter have since been living with her parents.
Alpana and her family wanted the in-laws to take her and the child back, but these pleas were ignored. Alok married another woman without divorcing Alpana and moved to Lucknow. Though Alpana has filed a complaint with the police and even met with the District Magistrate and the district Police chief, they have allegedly ignored her petition and no case has yet been filed.
According to Alpana, she sent the letter to the President seeking permission for euthanasia so that she and her daughter can end their sufferings. “I have lost faith in the legal system,” she said.
Dowry, traditionally an upper cast Hindu practice of the bride’s family offering wedding gifts to the bride-groom’s family, is now widely practiced by all religious communities across the country despite the law that prohibited dowry way back in 1967. In 1986, following nationwide campaigns and lobbying by women’s rights organisations, India amended its Penal Code to include section 304B and 498A which acknowledge harassment and cruelty by husbands and his relatives for dowry.
Women’s rights activists have been complaining that the police inaction and low rate of conviction make this social evil an acceptable practice in the country. According to statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau, 8391 dowry death cases were reported in 2010 while the conviction rate was just 34%.
Featured Poster by National Commission for Women, Courtesy: Zubaan Poster Women