Respected Chief Justice of the Hon’ Supreme Court of India,
While I am happy about the anti-dowry judgment passed on 27th July 2017, because several take undue advantage of this and many are advised by lawyers and member of the women cell to sort to these measures, I have also felt the agony of why many take these decisions.
I’m a victim of mental harassment by my in-laws. Being an educated woman I decided to go to the women cell to lodge my complaint, where I was shockingly advised by one of the members to spice up my case with some dowry and physical violence related matter, to make my case strong.
I walked out quite upset and hurt that in my country a married woman’s mental trauma is treated like a petty matter. When I approached a lawyer for advice on the same, he too told me that the judge would only consider my situation a usual matrimonial disagreement and I need to add the weight of dowry to make it a strong case.
I’m still determined not to fight on the grounds of lies because in doing so my motive will be lost. Mental harassment of a married woman will stay a petty issue.
Being a working independent woman I have no interest in any sort of maintenance or alimony. I would like to clarify here that my in-laws are not financially dependent on my husband but they have always kept this grown-up child financially and emotionally dependent on him.
I have a few questions for you, sir, with examples of what I have been through:
• I took care of my ailing mother-in-law for more than two weeks, post which my father-in-law accused me of being negligent and lazy because his daughter had come to take care of his wife and I wanted to take rest for two days. Am I not entitled to take rest if I’m unwell? If my mother falls sick, my husband will not be allowed to take care of her in the same way and I will have no right to complain about it.
• If I being a daughter am expected to take care of my parents, then what’s wrong if my sister-in-law took care of her mother while I took a break after two weeks of complete dedicated attention to her?
• My in-laws always claim that they are aged and it is an emotional pressure on my husband from his sisters and parents, that he shouldn’t live separately. I never wanted him to live separately but the constant interference from their end on
o how I should clothe when I go out with my husband;
o why am I not present before my sister-in-law and her husband come to our house;
o why don’t I go to office and come back early and spend maximum time with them since they are the elders of the house
had made it difficult to live with them under the same roof. The kind of interference they object to when it is made by the in-laws of their daughter and yet they do it to me, citing generation gap as the reason.
• While we are living in a progressive country and want our daughter-in-laws are expected to be modern, constantly criticizing them for being an independent woman with intellect and her own opinion towards life, is not considered mental harassment.
• I have been snubbed and given cold-shoulders by all my in-laws because I refused to bow down to their crippled conditions laid down in front of me. These conditions differ for daughters and daughter-in-laws, isn’t that mental harassment?
• I have been asked by all the female members of this family to adjust because they have adjusted. Does adjustment mean giving up on your comfort and freedom to please the self-centered ego of others? Does it mean suffocating yourself just to allow them to have their way with my life? Is this not mental harassment?
• I have been in depression and now I get anxiety attacks for the mental pressure that I have seen in the few months of my marriage, but I have been told this doesn’t make a strong case. Then what will?
• I was called mad by my father-in-law (in their exact words ‘she gets fits’) for leaving their house every time they insulted me. Living in a house where your self-respect is treated like dirt makes you an ideal woman, but if you leave that house then you are a culprit.
If I had given in to the options laid down in front of me and added the false accusations of dowry, my cause would be lost, but it is still a lost case.
This is one of the reasons bright, beautiful minds of this country succumb to mental harassment by their in-laws and choose to commit suicide because their case will otherwise be treated as petty. I’m fighting for these wonderful women and myself so that at least our mental agony is not termed as a ‘weak case’.
Where is the justice for me, when I’m fighting with my truth?