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498A a boon or a bane to society?

Uses of 498A

The society from the beginning have always being patriarchal. From ages, we have seen many men controlling women in many ways. In India, still many parts specially in villages, women are not considered equal as men. From birth, it was said that men are born to earn and feed their family whereas women were told to stay at home and do the work. Many crimes against women like rape, dowry, molestation also started which led to deaths of many women. Now, since my topic is dowry, I would like to say that dowry was a evil (still there in many places). Dowry, popularly known as dahej was a gift given by bride's father to the groom's family as a gift. But later on, people misused it and harassed the bride's family.

If the bride's family didn't able to satisfy the groom's family's hunger for money, then the bride was harrased in a dangerous way after marriage. The mother in law often beaten her and the husband also harrased her verbally and physically which led the bride to suicide. In 1955, deaths due to dowry harassments rose which led the women rights group to protest in the nation. In 1961, the government introduced the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, which made dowry a punishable offence.

If an accused is convicted of dowry, then he will be awarded minimum 7 years of imprisonment and maximum life time imprisonment. Other laws like domestic violence act was also enforced which led to a imprisonment of 3 years or more to curb the violence against women.

Misuse of 498A

Now, since the law has done good for the society specially women, but it has a number of criticisms. Misuse of the Dowry law has seen a growth in the 2000s era. Many women took revenge from men by putting false cases against their families by harassing them and extorting money.

There is a nexus going on in which a wife puts false case against the husband and the family and blackmails them by extorting huge sums of money to drop the case even though the dowry act is non-cognizable.

The husband can either pay the wife the money or fight it in the court which takes at least 10-15 years to prove themselves innocent. I have heard about a case in which a wife took 50 lakhs from the husband's family to drop the case. In 2014, the Supreme Court termed anti-dowry law as legal terrorism in which the court said that the woman has used a law as a weapon to harass men and their families and made a dark blot on marriages in India.

Today, this has become such a practice that men fear of marriages because of the gender-biased laws. The saddest part is that even the accused is proven innocent, the women walks freely outside the court because there is no provision to make false complaints, a punishable offence. Because of the misuse of this law, the courts are overburdened with cases and because of this, real victims of dowry doesn't get justice and innocent men and their families go to jail.

Its true that women are harassed and molested in parts of the country but we need to also see that our men are also safe. Gender-neutral laws are the need of the hour. Feminists should speak up about this because it affects all the genders whether man or a woman. We should ensure that marriage is a united relationship between a couple. Both Dowry and misuse of dowry is bad for the society as it affect the lives of people and questions the accountability of marriage.

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