Early in the course of our interviews, we realised that the definition and popular understandings of dowry were things we needed to try to understand in a fuller, more comprehensive manner. On the whole, complainants and defendants seemed to hold two rather conflicting understandings of what has come to be seen as a ‘social evil’.
Compatibility and adjustment Many families seeking to get their children married are clearly content to make arrangements simply on the basis that they like the man or woman they have met. They feel that they do not need to consider much else besides.
Part I For a very long time, I had wanted to understand what goes on inside the minds of those accused of dowry death.
Expectations and ‘taking responsibility’ In situations where one partner has enjoyed a great deal of independence prior to marriage and the other has lived a very sheltered life with his/her parents, the couple may often end up having misunderstandings.
Gagan is facing cases filed under Indian Penal Code sections 304-B (dowry death), 306 (abetment to suicide) and 498-A (marital cruelty). He protests his innocence of each of the charges.
Loyalty and power As far as the stereotype goes, a persecuted wife’s mother-in-law is usually at the heart of the matter. The narrative goes like this: the mother-in-law, who held sway over the household until her daughter-in-law barged in and disrupted her special relationship with her son, resents the daughter-in-law.
While I was collecting data for a research project on what has come to be known as ‘bride burning,’ I came across the case at a Catholic missionary NGO in Bangalore. The NGO arranged for me to meet Shilpa – Neeti’s elder sister – and discuss the details of her sister’s case with her.