The spate of dowry-related deaths by young women in the past few months has put into perspective the actual state of gender equality in Kerala. Kerala has always been considered a progressive state with high female literacy and a better gender ratio when compared to the rest of the country.

The façade of progressiveness stands pathetically exposed. Scores of women suffering in hushed horror are cloistered by the large mansions draped with lush greenery. Beautiful gold bedecked wedding pictures accompanied with dreamy wedding videos are a mere cosmetic attempt to hide the ugly transaction taking place in the name of marriage. All talks of gender sensitivity become wasted when a woman remains suppressed in her home, be it by the parents or the marital family.

The situation is not just limited to Kerala. According to the 2020 National Crime Records Bureau report, one woman continues to be a victim of dowry death in India with each passing hour. Every four minutes, a woman is subjected to cruelty by her husband or in-laws.

For eliminating dowry deaths, the women’s parents have to take a forethoughtful stride towards bringing up confident, secure women who will not bow down to the pressures of dowry demands or abuse at any stage in life.

Focus on Education and Self- Reliance

Women should be bought up with the sole idea of education and standing on their own feet. Even in a highly educated society like Kerala, women are given higher education with marriage prospects in mind rather than professional growth and independence. Economic independence is the essential elixir that prepares a woman to face life’s challenges. There is no denying that ordinary professional working women struggle juggling work pressures and house chores. In some instances, the working women have no say or control over the money they earn. So, the need is to raise empowered women who do not cower down by any form of bullying or abuse.

Independent Choice on Marriage

Most women give in to the idea of marriage by submitting to the pressures of family and society. An independent, secure woman is relentlessly questioned and pitied over her unmarried status. It is important for the family to encourage the woman to make an independent choice, be it while choosing a life partner or when they want to marry. If the woman decides to remain unmarried, the preference needs to be respected and supported. A woman should have the sole liberty to get married according to her free will.

Refuse to Give Dowry

In most parts of the country, marriage talk accompanies dowry talks. With blatant disregard for the evils wrought by the dowry system, dowry is accepted as part of tradition or watered down as gifts for the daughter. In some instances, the dowry demands come into play after fixing the marriage, leaving the bride’s family in a spot. The bride’s family should show foresight and break away from the relationship without bothering about society. Breaking up such toxic engagement should be encouraged instead of giving in to flimsy pressures and knowingly sending the daughter into a greedy lethal family.

Pressure to Adjust

With the marriage fixed, the woman receives relentless coaching on what she needs to do to make the marriage work. For a successful marriage, the paramount responsibility is on the woman to adjust to the new household. Even in this modern-day woke generation, the burden of adjustment continues to be on the woman. There is no denying that for a marriage to work, there has to be commitment and compromise. But for the relationship to thrive, mutual partnership along with understanding should come from both sides. A woman should not adjust to disrespect in any form, let alone emotional abuse or violence.

Happily Single

The recent dowry deaths in Kerala sheds light on the psychological upheaval women feel about being single. Most of the women stay in unhappy marriages due to the stigma associated with divorce, perpetuated by the slights and perceptions of society. For whatever reasons, two individuals might find it formidable to make a relationship work. Dragging the relation can be suffocating and toxic for each other. Society needs to accept that divorce is an empowering worthy option for women and accord them respect for making a happy, healthy choice. The pressure to make the marriage work at all costs can be fatal for the daughters.

Every woman should wear the tag of happily single with pride, be it unmarried by choice or generally divorced. The norm of society should be for a woman to thrive immaterial of her marital status. Let’s spur women to embrace resilient, positive choice.