Thursday, 21 April 2011
And the culpability of the parents?
Very recently, there have been a few cases of suicides reported in Mumbai, by young married women who were allegedly tormented by the in-laws. In at least two cases, the unfortunate, desperate ladies also took the lives of their little children, and I can’t think of a sadder tragedy. Remember, such incidents that happen in urban India get a wide media coverage. One can only imagine the number of similar suicides in India’s heartland, most of which don’t get reported. Or even noticed.
And quite rightly, criminal cases are filed against the in-laws. Most of them don’t reach their logical conclusion, as abetment to suicide is almost always oral, therefore difficult to prove in a court. And the accused often don’t leave footprints behind. So the cases inevitably collapse, and the alleged culprits walk free. But that’s another story.
What disturbs me is the role (or the lack of it) of the girl’s parents in these gruesome incidents. That never gets discussed, never gets investigated, and perhaps if it was, the rate of such suicides may actually reduce. Let’s never forget that when a dependent woman gets harassed by her in-laws, her only recourse for help, emotionally and otherwise, is her parents, brothers and sisters. And if that doesn’t happen, if her folks are unable to provide support and understand her predicament, the poor woman has nowhere to turn to. And this helplessness could be a key catalyst for killing oneself.
Questions that need to be asked: Did her parents agree to give dowry during the marriage? If so, they have already participated in the sad outcome. Most in-laws who crave dowry will never be satiated with a one-off payment, and much like blackmailers, will keep returning for more. Did the parents insist that the tormented woman ‘somehow’ make the bad marriage work, to ‘compromise’ and live with her wicked in-laws? Did they fling the stigma of ‘social badnaami’ of a broken marriage in her face? Did they offer to support her financially when she expressed the desire to move back with her family? Did they take her frantic phone calls seriously? Were they there for her??? Questions, questions, questions. And they never get answered.
Point is: Sure, put the errant in-laws under serious pressure. But parents must also do some hard soul searching on how they contributed to their daughter’s death. Directly or indirectly.