KATHMANDU: Dr Neelam Shah, MBBS, MD is rarely found in hospital these days . In past, she used to treat the people with physical sickness but thesdays she has been treating the society. She says,” I am fighting for the rights of women .”
Neelam has got lots of pain by her husband and in laws but now she has planned to speak; not only for her rights but for all those women who is suffering from dowry related violence.
Neelam of Kalaiya municipality was married to Dr Rajesh kumar sah of Birgunj metropolitan city in 2012 . Neelam’s father Dr Niranjan sah had paid 35 lakh rupees as dowry apart from the ornaments and other essential items . But Neelam’s in laws were not satisfied with the amount . They demanded other 25 lakhs which Neelam’s family denied to give. We have given everything according to their demand but they were never satisfied says Dr Niranjan, who is working as Associate Professor at TU Teaching Hospital, Maharaajgunj, Kathmandu.
Neelam’s father also helped her son in law to go to china for MD studies . Neelam,too, was sent to china for higher studies(MD). But the relationship between husband and wife was not good even there and the reason was dowry . After completion of higher studies Neelam returned back to Birgunj but her in laws never welcomed her . She was ill treated . Very often she was not given food to eat and was regulary abused. She was kicked out from her husband’s home. Neelam was threatened by in laws and finally she went to police. The Birgunj admistration has given order to allow Neelam to stay in her home. Few days ago she went her home to stay but she has been regularly threatened. She says, They are torturing me and threating me to leave home.” But now she is strong enough to challenge her in laws family.
In fact, domestic violence is quite common in Nepal. According to Nepal police, more than 15 hundred cases were registered last year . Human rights organization INSEC documented 12 victims of dowry in the year 2012 and the number was increased to 26 in the year 2013.
Women are physically and mentally tortured, verbally abused, beaten to death, set on fire and killed due to dowry related violence in Nepal. Especially in southern part of country dowry is rampant . In many cases, women are killed and some are burnt to death for dowry. Recently Dr Sachitanand yadav of Birgunj killed her wife Sunita Yadav for dowry . Likewise Kanchan Mandal of sirha, southern district of nepal was killed for dowry few weeks ago.
The giving and taking of dowry as a wedding ritual is said to have become a cultural practice and became accepted widely in recent decades. It has been argued that the dowry system developed initially among high caste, affluent families and that a substantial dowry is perceived as a symbol of high socio-economic status. Though the dowry has been restricted by law, it has been increasing. All groups, castes, and communities are affected by dowry system one way or another.
It will not be exaggeration to say that a social problem like dowry is alarming in Nepal. Legal provision alone cannot restrict the dowry problems. What need to change is the attitude and behavior of the community towards the girls and women. Girls and women should be treated equally in all aspects of their life. Laws are also needed to be implemented and evaluated strictly. And Neelam has decided to speak against the dowry , one of the worst form of evil especially on southern part of Nepal.
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