Kerala: In an attempt to strengthen the implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and lessen dowry cases in the state, the Kerala government has issued a circular demanding all male government employees to sign and submit a “no-dowry declaration” within one month of marriage.
The steps have been taken to inculcate a stricter environment against dowry in society. The circular was issued by the Women and Child Development Department on July 16, 2021. The Women and Child Development Department is responsible for the administration and coordination of work related to the prohibition of dowry throughout the state of Kerala. The male employees have to submit the form within one month of marriage, and it needs to be signed by the wife, father, and father-in-law of the employee. The form is to be submitted to the heads of all departments, including private, autonomous, and other institutions that have been directed to obtain the declaration.
The State Women and Child Development Director, who doubles as the Chief Dowry Prohibition Officer as per the Kerala Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Rules, 2021, has asked the heads to properly obtain and maintain declarations from government employees, confirming that they have “not asked for, taken, or exhorted the receipt of dowry”.
The heads have also been asked to compile and maintain a report on all declarations that are received by employees, and submit the report every six months before April 10 and October 10 every year. This report is to be submitted to the District Dowry Prohibition Officer (District Women and Child Development Officer) of the concerned district. The District Officer will then submit a report of the departments that have not furnished the declarations before April 15 and October 15 every year. This procedure has been stated as mandatory under the Act and the Rules, according to the circular.
The government has also decided that November 26 will be observed as Dowry Prohibition Day in Kerala, wherein all students in high schools, higher secondary and vocational higher secondary schools, colleges, and other educational institutions in the state will take a pledge to not partake in the taking or giving of dowry during a general assembly at the institution. Last month, Kerala’s Governor Arif Mohammad Khan also suggested that students be made to sign bonds when they take admission in any state institution promising to not partake in dowry.
“Universities cannot and should not allow dear degrees to be used as a license to increase the price of a bridegroom in the marriage market… universities have every right to ask the person who is going to get the degree to sign a bond. And it is not extra-legal. This (dowry) is a punishable crime. It is demeaning to the university if the degree given by it is used to demand more dowry,” he said. He also added that the signing of the bond should be extended to parents as well, and that the same rule could be applied for appointments for university jobs too.
The decision comes after the state has faced various horrific dowry-related incidents in the past few weeks. On June 22, Vismaya V Nair, a final year student of Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, was found dead at her in-law's house. The death was an alleged suicide. Only a few weeks later, two other women— Archana (24 years old) and Suchitra (19 years old) allegedly died of suicide in Kerala as well; all three women died of the same reason— harassment by the groom and his family over insufficient dowry....