CHENNAI: After bearing two years of dowry harassment and sexual torture from her husband Vanitha, a government school teacher, went to the police and got her husband arrested in Vepery. Hers is not an isolated case, especially in the posh localities in south Chennai.
Chennai city police records show that there were 97 dowry harassment cases and 10 dowry deaths in the past five months in the south zone, which has localities like T Nagar, Vadapalani, Guindy, Adyar, Ashok Nagar and Thuraipakkam. In the same period there were 71 dowry harassment cases and five dowry deaths in the west zone, which includes areas like MKB Nagar and Pulianthope.
In the east zone, with areas like Tondiarpet, Korrukupet, New Washermenpet and many slums, there were 35 dowry harassment cases and three dowry deaths in the past five months. In areas including Chintadripet, Thousand Lights and Zam Bazaar that comprise east zone, the police recorded 28 dowry harassment cases and four dowry deaths.
South Chennai tops the dowry harassment list despite the fact that residents in neighbourhoods in the zone are more educated and well-off, a police officer said. The south zone comprises areas like Adyar, Guindy, Taramani, Saidapet, Thuraipakkam, Neelankarai, T Nagar, Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam, Ashok Nagar, Teynampet, St Thomas Mount, Meenambakam, Pallavaram, Tambaram, Selaiyur and Madipakkam.
Social activist Narmada Subramaniam says payment of dowry is a transaction that is weighted against the woman. “Parents who spend money to make their sons doctors, engineers or IT professionals look at dowry as a return on the investment,” she said. “Despite changes in the law, growing awareness, economic progress and empowerment, women are bought and sold for a price.”
She said creating awareness among the youth could lead to a positive change and a drop in cases of dowry harassment.
Save Indian Family Movement convenor Suresh Ram says many educated young men marry into rich families and then exploit their wives. “A recent study conducted by the Centre for Social Research said the conviction rate is very low in dowry cases,” he said. “Many of the culprits are educated and affluent. They find loopholes in the law and manage to get away.”
Additional commissioner of police P Thamarai Kannan said an increasing number of educated women from the southern localities of Chennai are lodging complaints against their husbands and in-laws. “This could be one of the reasons that there has been a spurt in cases in the south zone,” he said.
Source: The Times of India