Dowry system fuelling farmers' suicides in Vidarbh
Mumbai/Nagpur: The dowry system is driving many farmers of Maharshtra's Vidarbha region to suicide, a fact which was brought into national focus Sunday on "Satyamev Jayate", Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan's popular show.
In an interview on the show, Usha Ashtekar, 25, spoke about how her father borrowed from a money-lender but had to repay the loan even before he could get Usha married.
"My father took a loan from a money-lender to get me married. But before he could do so, the money-lender made my father repay the loan by using force. Worried about my marriage plus the bad condition of our farm, he committed suicide two years back," Usha told IANS from her village Sakra in Pandharkawada tehsil of Maharashtra's Yavatmal district.
"Later, my brother and mother took another loan and spent over Rs.3 lakh on my wedding, bowing down to the needs of my in-laws. But it was all in vain as their demands kept increasing. I had to return to my mother's home in only three months as I could no longer bear their torture," she added.
Usha, who has been married for over a year, is still staying at her mother's home and prays that her husband will call her back some day.
"Usha is one of the many cases that have met a similar fate. According to a survey done by the Maharashtra government in 2006, out of 20 lakh households in Vidarbha, around 4 lakh households had daughters of marriageable age," said Kishor Tiwari, President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers advocacy group.
"But most of these girls did not get married due to lack of resources. The survey also said that the entire credit chain of these farmers was disturbed as they had to use the loan money in their daughters' marriage instead of using them for betterment of their farms," Tiwari said.
Tiwari pointed out that there has been no such survey in the last six years and that VJAS is planning to demand for a similar survey.
"It is inhuman to ask for dowry, as those seeking dowry are themselves aware of the grave crisis in Vidarbha," Tiwari said.