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Dowry system and flashy weddings continue to gain momentum in Province 2



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By Jibachha Yadav, Lahan, Dec. 7: Although voices are being raised and various efforts are being taken to wipe out the dowry system, which is the rooted cause for violence against women in Province 2, the wedding season this year has reflected the opposite. Neither the dowry system has been eradicated, nor have the ostentatious and flashy wedding celebrations toned down.

Renu Karna, a women's rights activist said, "The 'Save the girl, educate the girl' campaign launched by Province 2 had given a ray of hope to us that the dowry system would finally be erased from our wedding rituals. However, the scenario is the opposite in reality. The dowry system and unnecessary flashy weddings have rather gained momentum of late."

"Instead of holding wedding ceremonies according to one's financial status, people here in Province 2 spend from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 30 million in weddings," she added.

According to Sajan Kumar Sah, principal of JS Murarka Multiple Campus in Lahan, the more educated the groom's family is, the more dowries they demand with the bride's family.

"Most of the parents here have the mentality that irrespective of the education they provide to their daughters, they are bound to provide dowry while they get married. This has also barred many daughters from pursuing higher education," said Sah.

He added that it was important for men to raise awareness against the dowry system by participating in campaigns launched by women leaders against the social evil.

"Many youths choose foreign employment to manage dowries for their daughters and sisters, many mortgage their lands to obtain funds," said Siyaram Sah of Lahan-13. "No efforts have been taken from anywhere to eradicate dowry system"

Meanwhile, Sariyar Kumar Chaudhary, deputy mayor of Lahan Municipality said, "While it is challenging for us to erase the dowry system, the ostentatious and unnecessary expenses in weddings have brought another deformity in society."

He added that despite assuring to remove the dowry system, the political leaders and social workers had not been able to give practicality to it.

"The province government is not being able to introduce an effective programme to eradicate the trend of giving and taking dowry. Many ministers themselves participate in flashy weddings where dowries are being transacted openly. This is not going to help in erasing the dangerous evil in any way," said Ashok Kumar Yadav, member of the Provincial Assembly.

Moreover, Deputy Superintendent of Lahan Area Police Office, Sarad Thapa Chhetri, said that the complaints of violence against women in the name of dowry had been increasing in Lahan. "It is about time to educate and aware the social leaders and representatives of various caste associations to take effective steps and wipe out the dowry system."

"The dowry system, which had initiated from the said 'upper caste' families, has also gained momentum in poor Dalit families," said Nirmala Pashwan, Dalit's rights activists. "Wedding expenses in Dalit community would only cost Rs. 5,000 some 10 years ago. These days, they spend Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 1 million for weddings," she added.

Pashwan stressed the need for laws to regulate weddings and social ceremonies as such in a limited expense.