Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

A comment in a previous post wondered,

‘After all, no one can be FORCED to give a dowry. The people giving dowry do so by their own free will.’ The comment also compared dowry to gift.

But dowry (the way it is today in India) is more like ransom than gift. And it is not really seen as a choice by most of those who give or demand it.

What is seen as a choice is whether or not to have or to raise a girl child (sex selection, abandoning a baby girl, infanticide etc).

The radical option of raising a daughter as an equal citizen (with as many opportunities to seek and find happiness as anybody else) is beginning to be seen as a choice only now.

A paraya dhan‘s parents were (are?) considered irresponsible if they didn’t start worrying about her marriage as soon as she was born. And the first concern was not who she would marry, but her Dowry.

In fact, girl children even today are often not seen as children but as future daughters in law.

Which is why, the kind of education permitted, career choices, what they are allowed to wear, see, read, learn, earn, spend, save, eat or drink, the kind of social life permitted – all this was (is) decided with only one objective in mind – the future in laws’ approval.

Why did this approval matter?

Because there was (is) another rule – the father of an Indian paraya dhan must ‘give her away’ in kanayadan.

So traditionally a daughter’s parents had no option. If a daughter was born, she had to be raised as a paraya dhan, and had to be married off (by a certain age) with whatever dowry her future life partner’s parents agreed to accept after negotiations.

Before Dowry was made illegal, it was seen as a male child’s parents’ fair and assured entitlement. (Didn’t they raise him with their sweat and blood?)

Indian paraya dhan‘s parents acknowledged this.

There were justifications: The in laws ‘look after’ the ‘girl’, and dowry was a payment/compensation. Some saw it as her share (inheritance)- though the in laws/spouse owned and controlled it.

Dowry being made illegal has started changing the society’s attitude towards dowry.

Just like criminalising sex-selection has changed the way people talk about (many still think the same way) about having daughters. It also made it easier for parents to invest in their daughters’ self reliance instead of saving for their dowry (other factors also favoured these changes)

So, soon one heard magnanimous announcements about how much better than dowry was it to ‘bring’ a working (earning) daughter in law.

The law also lead to dowry related harassment being recognised as a specific kind of a very common crime/abuse.

Sadly the change is coming very slow. I personally know of women who have lost their lives to dowry related abuse. And dowry deaths are always connected with another social rule:  that women must save their marriages. We glorify women who give up happiness to stay married to men who do not respect them. See what this mindset lead to, 

[Link shared by Siddhesh]

Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

HAZARIBAGH: A woman set herself on fire allegedly due to harassment by her in-laws despite donating one of her kidneys to her husband as a part of a dowry deal about six months ago in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district.

 

Six months ago her husband Sudama Giri fell sick after his kidneys failed. His mother gave Devi a written undertaking that they would treat her well and stop asking for another Rs 25,000 as dowry from her father if she donated one of her kidneys to Giri. 

 

Why did she agree to give her kidney in exchange of dowry? She was buying peace, and she could not imagine a happy life outside this miserable and abusive marriage.

As it is abuse victims find it difficult to walk out, then if they find no support from family or society… there must have been so much loneliness.

How did she feel when the abuse continued even after she donated her kidney?  And why did she think that abuse would stop if she suffered just a little more and made just one more sacrifice?

Wish there were media campaigns that spoke about abuse, that help victims recognise it, and that warned against wasting time trying to ‘win over’ an abuser’s respect.

And I wish women were encouraged to value their personal safety and happiness.

Three social rules that have begun to change and these changes can save many lives. If these rules continue to be defied there would be no dowry and sex selection.

1. Women must Get Married, preferably by a certain ‘marriageable’ age.

2. Women must save their marriages/relationships at the cost of personal happiness.

3.Women should see self reliance as an option and marriage as the sole purpose goal in their lives.

46 thoughts on “Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

  1. We have such a long way to go..one can only hope that a woman’s sef reliance coupled with a greater awareness of self worth (and need to build it) will push for gradual and steady change in society in radical, subliminal and conscious ways.

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  2. Shame! What a waste of a life. Might sound trite and clicheed. But what else can one say? The concept of “paraya dhan” in the first place is so disgusting – the daughter is a piece of meat / property who is someone else’s “belonging”. How much more demeaning could it get?

    Then even if daughters were considered as ‘paraya dhan’. it defies all logic to have to give a dowry. “Paraya dhan” implies that the “property” of the ILs is being “entrusted” to the parents of the girl for bringing up. So why do they have to be paid to “take back” what they think “belongs” to them?
    Shouldn’t it be they who pay for having allowed the parents to have their (the IL’s) “property”?

    So look at it any which way one likes: The business of dowry is outright nonsense.

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  3. Some stories leave you speechless, this is one of them. I don’t know what to feel angry at the stupidity of people, society and the rules, feel sad for the current state of affairs, feel inspired to change things or just brush this aside as the numerous ills that plague our society that we read in our newspapers(yes I have become immune to those news items. sometimes when I can’t I just close the newspaper).

    Anybody who says no one is forced to give dowry has never heard of anything called subtlety. Having said that at some point girls parents HAVE to stop using dowry to buy happiness for their daughters. Stop using peer pressure and society pressure to justify taking the easier path.

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  4. I went to see a friend and her new born in hospital a few months back. Someone made a teasing ‘paraya dhan’ remark. And my friend got so angry and worked up. “How DARE you call my daughter paraya dhan”. And everyone tried to hush her with “Oh she was just kidding” and looked at me for help to calm my friend down. But of course I said, “shes right. thats a disgusting thing to call a child”.
    Isn’t it strange that everybody was so worried about the relative taking offense? Why was nobody bothered about the mother taking offense about her own child being called a property? Strange I tell you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You said it, nobody except you and your friend could see the offensiveness in calling the new baby paraya dhan. This attitude coming from people I am assuming are urban, educated, well to do folks (not poor villagers) is even more disgusting. Kudos to you and your friend for calling it out, people who make such offensive comments should be openly insulted, shamed and asked to leave right away. That is the only way way to deal with such people, no respect or politeness, they deserve to be shamed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If someone even as much as breathes those words near my daughter, I give no guarantees for them being able to go back home in one piece. Some things are positively non negotiable and this is one them. Good job on standing up for your friend. How would the mother of a boy like to be told “oh, future rapist”? This is just like that. Disgusting.

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  5. OMG – We’ve now started parting with body parts to be treated like a human being !!!! Give a kidney and i won’t harass you????
    Speechless.

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  6. Speaking of dowry related harassment, there is a whole group of men’s ‘rights’ activists who are strongly fighting against IPC-498a, which they claim is ‘sexist’ as it leans towards women and gives them an unfair advantage.
    What kind of society are we living in when men consider a law that came into force because thousands and thousands women were abused (emotionally and physically), harassed, and even killed, an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE?

    The language use on that website gives a good idea of who misogynists perceive the denial of their right to ask for dowry.

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      • I am a male and I am strictly against the “present” form of section 498. And what you wrote in this message is just nonsense. As always with feminists, spreading their hate propaganda by writing false informations. If you have indeed not understood why so many people are against that law, well I can understand and I would advice you to first do some research and find out, I don’t want to hijack this post by explaining it.

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        • Men are already rising up against this law ,…..says a lot with kind of power they hold over society.A few cases of misuse is enough for policemen to act smart and not help women.
          It took years and decades for such a law to be framed in first place against dowry,..for India ‘s second class citizens…still people give and receive dowry.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The willful conduct of cruelty is defined in 498A and there is also a mention of dowry related harassment. These were two different things. If the law enforcement (read male establishment) registered complaints against battery and emotional abuse they failed to give a cause/motive for such abuses. So dowry was an easy excuse because law needs a reason/motive to justify a crime. There is tremendous harassment even when there is no dowry is given and taken. What is the reason for such harassment, nothing in particular and just being a bahu is good enough reason.

          More women are killed and abused everyday than those who became firewood to flames of dowry. Yet handful of women have managed with the help of lawyers and law enforcement nexus to abuse 498A. It is definitely wrong but is not good enough reason to color all other women survivors of Domestic Violence black.
          DG

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    • It makes perfect sense to them because their personal anecdote obviously trumps all the historical evidence there is. They don’t stop for a moment to realize that every law will be misused. But instead of focusing on preventing misuse, they want to deny the protection it affords to millions of women by scrapping it altogether – all this because they happen to be among the small group of victims of misuse. I’ve seen some men make claims that because our judiciary is so involved in prosecuting IPC-498a cases, more vicious crimes such as rapes are not being taken care of. Since when did law enforcement start working on just one case at a time?

      The simple fact is that we CANNOT deny history. We have a horrible history of dowry related harassment and pretending that all dowry related complaints are bogus is dishonesty at it’s very best. Just goes to show you how much those men fear being taken to task over something that’s illegal and morally disgusting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi

        I don’t know what those MRA guys are asking for, but the last time I checked, nobody was asking for scrapping the law altogether. Ok, there might be many people like that who knows.

        The draconian law gives the power to arrest the man and even his family, without starting any sort investigation or evidence!!! I understand that this nature of the law was made to actually cause fear of the law as in India conviction rate is just beyond pathetic. And no, atleast in my case I am not against the law, I think its a good thing, but what we are asking is to add another clause so that if, after investigations it is found out that the woman who filed the complaint, intentionally reported it falsely then severe punishment should be meted out to her. Don’t you think it will create a fear against the misuse of the law ? Most of the guys who are against this law atleast those who I know are against the misuse of the law not against the law itself🙂. And I don’t understand how it is misogyny ? Or is it misandry from the other end ?

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        • From what I understand, some of the ‘false cases’ include cases where complaints are withdrawn when there is pressure from family/in laws to continue to adjust… so maybe a serious and objective study would help make amendments that would be fair to all involved. I also know of cases where the police refused to write an FIR, gave the woman a lecture and after living alone for some time, she went back to her in laws (my domestic help in Pune, have blogged about this earlier). Her neighbours had told her that her mother in law and husband had paid a ‘fine’ at the police station.:\ She stayed alone, bought a new stove, pots and pans and said she would never go back – her three children were with the husband and she hoped to get them after a while, but the mother in law didn’t allow her to take her children with her.

          What would have happened if the police had written her FIR – she was grateful to go back although she had been seriously abused – beaten (I saw the bruises) and thrown out of her house, and separated from her children.

          Liked by 1 person

        • @bellie
          I agree with you that 498A is draconian.

          However, considering the kind of society we live in, don’t you think a degree of ‘draconianess’ is required?
          Perhaps the law does need to be modified(the Supreme Court seems to think so, which I will accept, since the Supreme Court is not some bastion of MRA types) but I hope lawmakers will find a way to keep the draconian-ness while at the same time not tampering with any man’s/family’s rights to be presumed innocent until otherwise proven.

          I disagree with your suggestion to punish women if their husbands are found not guilty. Aquittal may mean insufficent evidence, and and not complete innocence.

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        • Oh yes, we have seen many injunctions quashed and “adam waku” (a lie or misunderstanding) filed against women on the behest that the aggrieved woman went back to her marital home after facing battery and assault because she had no where else to go or she didn’t have means to survive or her children were there or her natal family forced her to go back. With a case filed against her abuser she could not go back so the case has to be withdrawn and what will be the reason to withdraw?
          Either it was a lie/false complain or it was a misunderstanding between the two parties. So who looses here? The woman, she is labeled as a liar or it means domestic violence is nothing serious and does not need to be reported rather is just a misunderstanding.
          Where as the truth is domestic violence is not an incident but progression of incidents and is cyclic in nature, it has a history, context and future. By labeling a woman a liar or withdrawing her first report of abuse what message are we sending to the abusers? That they don’t have to worry about consequences (least the woman dies) and they can continue with their ways as the woman has no recourse in law and society. When woman goes back to report abuse she is told, last time you lied so why should you be believed this time around? The proof that you are lying is that you went back to abuser and are living with them.
          http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/cycle-of-violence/
          No act of domestic violence should be considered lesser evil that the other, like classifying on the degree of hurt, one slap is better than one kick, one kick is still better than punch and a kick. Each act of aggression should have consequences no matter even if the abuser and abused go back to living together empteen times, it is not lovers’ spat. There will come a time the abused will understand it is not changing and it is time to look for other options to survive and get out even if so called society stigmatizes you.

          Once domestic violence is reported that file cannot be closed for life if the partners chose to live together because it will happen again. Even when parties have divorced women report harassment from ex spouse, in the name of right to children- visitation, child support payments etc.

          Unless each incident of domestic violence bears a consequences for the abuser things are not going to change.
          Peace,
          DG

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      • This is a philosophical difference. I feel that the law SHOULD NOT take into account history or “social realities”. I think all laws should be gender neutral, caste neutral and sexual orientation neutral. The law should only look at “Person A” and “Person B”. I had written about this earlier: http://www.bhagwad.com/blog/2014/politics/marriage-laws-shouldnt-cater-to-social-realities.html/

        Basically the law should describe an ideal society and law enforcement should be stringent. In this context, it assumes that every woman can just say “no” to dowry and that if she’s physically harassed, the police will protect her. If the police don’t protect her, then we can bring a case against the police for not providing legally required protection. As several courts have already done so.

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        • @Desi Daru

          “Perhaps the law does need to be modified(the Supreme Court seems to think so, which I will accept, since the Supreme Court is not some bastion of MRA types) but I hope lawmakers will find a way to keep the draconian-ness while at the same time not tampering with any man’s/family’s rights to be presumed innocent until otherwise proven.”

          Thanks, and thats exactly what I also said.

          @girlsguidetosurvival

          What you wrote is something we all agree and know to an extent. But then whats your solution ? If you think that “handful of women have managed with the help of lawyers and law enforcement nexus to abuse 498A” then you are highly misinformed. Calling the law unfair would be an understatement, just think if something like that happens with your son or brother or someone who is close ? There are loads of bad things going on in India and we all agree that we need more stringent laws but equally important is to carefully pen that law. What India needs more badly is to up the conviction rates (that can check most of the other crimes) and society, social activists, we all should demand that instead of demanding gender biased laws. Strengthening judiciary is what is required, only that can cause real fear of the law.

          @Indian Homemaker

          Thanx for replying. What happened with your domestic help was wrong, but don’t you think it was more of the problem with the police who refused to register her complaint ? Even if 498 was more draconian, don’t you think that poor woman would have gone pretty much the same ? So how modifying it would for something which is “fair” would cause any difference ? Hope you can see my point as I have trouble conveying in writing.

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        • @IHM,
          Equal before the law; ability to say no to dowry before/after marriage or report this criminal act is not an option most women in this country have due to structural social realities of patriarchal oppression that keeps them uneducated and dependent on their families. Once we have level playing field then we can say law should not consider circumstances but focus on the evidence.
          It is like women did not say to dowry at the on set so now they have no right to complain now of torture. They did not use the law against demanding dowry to their advantage so now they should not have recourse to domestic violence law that focuses on dowry related violence.
          Hope that explains.
          DG

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    • First, I really wish the written undertaking bit is true – it can be used to implicate the husband’s family and (rightly) deliver appropriate punishment to all of them under existing laws.

      Next, my reply to TIF.

      @TeenIndianFeminist,
      The language use on that website gives a good idea of who misogynists perceive the denial of their right to ask for dowry.

      I agree with you that the language used in the website is indicative of a deeper malaise.

      That said, the solution to an extreme problem is not to steer the universe to the other extreme. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Section 498a is routinely abused and is extra ordinary in giving wives (*) and their families unfair advantages. It really needs to be examined thoroughly.

      Peace,
      TSCI

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  7. What happened with this girl was sad, the anti-dowry law even though I am against it but was made to be used exactly in such cases. I wonder if that girl or her family was even aware of that. People who were convicted of the dowry cases by courts needs to be highlighted, it will give the message about the law and will also create fear.

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  8. This “trying to win over someone” is something every woman needs to get it out of their system.. stop trying!!!! This is a myth.. nobody can “win over” anybody.. and women sacrifice their lives doing this!

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    • Yep its like golden rule,….you can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change, and you can’t win anyone over by bending over backwards….especially in laws and husbands who enjoy being in control.

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    • How?
      Every day GGTS gets at least 5 search engine terms like, ways to win Indian in-laws, pakistani mil, desi in-laws, “ways to please the husband when inlaws interferes,” from net savvy women looking out for help.
      How do we teach these women you cannot please anyone when families, society and opinion makers tell them it is their job to stay married and find happiness in making others happy.
      DG

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      • I don’t know…..I learnt on my own over years and one bad relationship. I think it also helped having sane parents who didn’t require us to conform. Also,I don’t see TV serials in Hindi or regional language at all.
        Soaps seem to propagate all these regressive ideas more.

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    • Nish Sidhu of NFIW did a small study in early 2000s on exchange of kidney as a condition of marriage and filed a PIL, Dg is not sure if the PIL was filed or not and what happened to the findings of the study. Here are we are talking because this woman killed herself after failed bargain or else it has been going on for long. In rural setting DG personally knows 2 cases where man’s family said, if the woman can’t give her kidney then her mother can get tested to see if she is a match. And in another case, a woman and her family came from Canada to shop for a groom (or his mother) who will donate a kidney to her brother and will beget access to immigrate to Canada.
      Desi marriages are a very calculated, planned exchange that is why they are called arranged marriage, a lot of planning and negotiation goes into them other than seeking compatibility.
      Peace,
      DG

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dowry is not a gift. Gifts are not expected or demanded they are given freely. Also gift giving is supposed to be reciprocal.

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  10. Apart from the whole dowry angle, the medical system here makes me cringe. I’ve always maintained that India is like a really extreme version of the US in this way–everything is for profit, ethics be damned.

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  11. In my extended family, a young newlywed woman was under intense pressure to donate her kidney to her husband, who was in DIRE need of a renal transplant.
    To her credit, she managed to fob in-laws off, with her husband’s support.
    The family then turned to the younger brother of the husband, who obliged. I’m not sure how willing he was.
    Organ donation especially in Indian families is a complex issue.
    My heart goes out to the woman in the article.

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  12. I was the person who deliberately picked up the dowry issue from a comment from ‘Fem’ in an earlier post to clarify a confusion there seems to be existing regarding views of some people as expressed on this blog. I’m glad that IHM brought up this post.

    As seen in response to my comment on the earlier post questioning the illegality of dowry and the responses to this post it is evident that people are pretty sure how dowry adversely affects adult Indian females (even girl children who are raised as a ‘paraya dhan’).

    But how does dowry affect adult educated, assertive and liberated Indian women ? Do they let themselves be sold and bought ? Do they allow themselves to be harassed for dowry even after marriage ? Do they go to the extreme as the woman in the post above to please others in order to ‘buy’ peace instead of imagining a happy life outside marriage ? The answer to all these questions would be a big NO. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    But the women who are not financially independent, oppressed and emotionally fragile do get adversely affected by anything related to their marriage. Be it giving a male heir to the in-laws or giving a dowry.

    I brought this up specially after reading the comments on the subject of female foeticide where a majority of people talked about the right of the woman on her own body and hence, her decision whether or not to give birth.

    I am happy to acknowledge that the majority of commentors here have got it spot on regarding the right of a woman on her own body. In theory, that is. Practically, in India, the situation is quite different. As in the example above about the woman donating her kidney, adult females are actually forced in to aborting female foetuses often in exchange of ‘peace’ and a ‘saved marriage’.

    Suppose, if the woman in the above example was pregnant and carrying a female foetus. And her MIL assured her by a written undertaking that they would treat her well and stop asking for another Rs 25,000 as dowry from her father if she aborted the female foetus, then how would we view the situation as ?

    If I’m not mistaken, several people in an old post here were of the opinion that if a woman is having a female foetus aborted, she is doing it out of her own free will. She may have been coerced or blackmailed, but the final choice was hers only. So should we see the kidney donation as the choice that the woman made too ? If yes, then why blame dowry ? If no, then why not apply the same logic to cases of gender-based abortions ?

    And if we think dowry should be illegal as it results in harassment and physical violence, then we should make alcoholism illegal too since it leads to domestic violence.

    Before I’m criticized for being pro-dowry, I must make it absolutely clear that I am NOT. And dowry should be illegal. My only point is whether we see adult Indian women as liberated or we see them as oppressed. We can’t assume they are oppressed when it comes to dowry but liberated enough to make their own choices when it comes to abortion. There is a mix of both in each case but usually one much more than the other.

    And as Sapna rightly pointed out in her comment above, every type of ‘force’ is not usually visible. There’s this thing called subtlety that works too well in almost all sorts of harassment towards a female.

    Though I want to write a lot more but I’m afraid this will turn into a debate about female foeticide and gender-based abortions rather than the status of adult females in India. The only point I wanted to make was that while most of the people here are theoretically right about how to go about having female empowerment (which actually holds true for any western society) but things are a lot different practically, at least in India.

    I’m expecting a lot of thumb-downs for this comment. But if you thumb me down, please do write your view about where I’m wrong so that I can at least think about if not immediately accept those views.

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    • In a patriarchal society, even laws can be slightly patriarchal, treating women sometimes as children, and hence you have a whole bunch of laws that would seem ‘infantilising’ in a country with more gender equality.
      But in India, these lopsided laws offer some degree of legal solace, if you will, to oppressed Indian women.

      As to how we see the laws it depends very much on individual view, no? A woman like me for example, wouldn’t need to be ‘protected’ from dowry by a specific law, or wouldn’t claim 50% of my husband’s ancestral property if we divorced. In that vein, I also find it a violation of my medical rights to be denied access to information about a fetus growing within me. So for a woman like me, all these laws that are meant to ‘help’ me are useless. But I recognise that I’m priviledged in our society, and that most women in India are not like me.

      How should laws be framed? Are criminal and civil laws meant to be completely and legally neutral? Or are they better off taking society into account, even if laws end up getting ‘skewed’ in pursuit of a legally accelerated state of gender equality? Is that an ‘acceptable’ enough end to justify the means?

      Jury is out on that one. I personally cannot presume to be informed enough to take a stand either way. (Though I must admit I lean towards absolute neutrality. )

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    • Alcohol does not lead to domestic violence but is used as an excuse because it lowers the user’s inhibitions.
      For emotional, mental harassment in marital homes most times dowry is not even an issue, we have been trying to point out that dowry harassment is not the only form and cause of harassment women face in marital homes.
      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/desi-in-laws-wedging-a-psychological-warfare-against-bahus/

      This is exemplary judgement because it explains what constitute pushing someone to the brink and then off the bridge without lifting a finger because there is a bandwagon that believes suicide is a personal choice (yes, it is when person is trying to manipulate someone or doing it out of vengeance).
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2613349/A-coward-bully-hell-Grieving-mother-slams-daughters-ex-boyfriend-jailed-stalking-jumped-motorway-bridge.html

      Peace,
      DG

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  13. Kidney donations can be extremely risky for the donator and really inhibit their lifestyle. Some feel weak and can’t keep moving in a fast pace anymore but need rest frequently. I would hope that risks and side effects would be talked about to the donor.
    Really a tragic story.

    Like

  14. Pingback: “I saw my sister was on the first floor and she was locked and she was crying badly with her daughter.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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