India's shame! IIT Delhi scholar hangs herself after endless dowry demands from her in-laws
"Was my daughter supposed to do household chores after her PhD?" is the question that Manoj Kumar Devat, Manjula's father, is asking everyone now!
In an extremely shameful and outrageous incident, an IIT Delhi scholar hanged herself to death in her hostel room after she was fed up by the endless dowry demands by her in-laws.
Originally from Bhopal, Manjula Dewak a civil engineer by profession was pursuing a PhD in water resources at IIT Delhi. She was earlier working in the US but returned to complete her PhD and was staying with her husband at Nalanda apartments which are inside the IIT Delhi campus.
Her husband Rajesh Virha, however, was visiting Indore at the time of the suicide and the call to the police PCR van was made by her friend, say police officials.
Manjula's family are blaming her in-laws for her death and say that she was being tortured by them. Her in-laws also wanted her to return to their home in Bhopal and give up her PhD.
Was my daughter supposed to do household chores after her PhD?
“I should have saved the money that I spent on my daughter’s education for dowry,” said an emotional Manoj Kumar Devat, father of Manjula Devat.
Her family adds that even though the in-laws were against her PhD, they had initially agreed for it.
“They had agreed earlier, but their attitude changed after marriage. They started asking money from her and often forced her to quit PhD,” Manjula's mother Seema told the media.
Manjula's grief-stricken father has also added that she was a brilliant student.
“She was a brilliant student and was about to complete her thesis next month. But her in-laws wanted her to come back to Bhopal and do household chores. Her husband, Rajesh Virha, had also been demanding Rs 25 lakh as dowry. Was my daughter supposed to do the dishes with her doctorate?” said an angry Devat.
Manjula's supervisor confirmed the allegations made by the family and has said that she was indeed under a lot of pressure.
“I know she was facing a lot of problems. As a woman, I could completely empathise with her,” said Dhanya, Manjula’s.
Dowry deaths in India
While India is certainly creating new records and emerging as a top class global player, what's disheartening is that it also has the highest number of dowry related deaths in the world according to Indian National Crime Record Bureau. In 2012, 18,233 dowry death cases were reported across India. This means a bride was burned every 90 minutes, or dowry issues cause 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India.
While the government is making all efforts to prohibit people from accepting and giving dowry, there are many who do that privately and under the cover.
And, while the Indian laws against dowries (Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961) have been in effect for decades, they have not been able to put a stop to the practice and have been criticized heavily for being ineffective.
The point that Manjula's father has made is also very very important. The time has indeed come to speak up and seek help. If you are in bad marriage or know of someone who is, push them to walk out of the ‘bad marriage’ without fearing social stigma.
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