A Must Read Book "BROKEN MIRRORS:The ‘Dowry Problem’ in India"
I have recently come across this book “Broken Mirrors” by Robin Wyatt with Nazia Masood.
The book published by SAGE publications is a compelling volume that examines those social issues pertinent in cases of ‘dowry-related’ domestic violence and death in India. It is based around the true narratives of eight men and women, both complainants and defendants, and stems from over a year’s intensive fieldwork in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Each story is told in a fresh manner, different from the one that preceded it. Thus, there is the account of a friend, a blog, an interview with a marital counsellor, the transcript of a session with the representative of an NGO for the falsely accused, a First Information Report (FIR) accompanied by a researcher’s account of her follow-up work, and the reflections of a prison social worker. In each story, the lives of the people concerned unfold gradually, such that the reader becomes intimately familiar with each case. A number of discussion notes then follow, picking up various of the issues that practitioners often fail to consider in ‘dowry cases’ and casting fresh light on them via careful analysis.
Overall, this book shows that today’s metropolitan city marriages are multidimensional relationships that must be negotiated with care by both couples and their families. Issues such as values, expectations, roles, power, loyalty and financial arrangements all have to be worked out within the contexts of a crowded family environment. Where this complicated path is navigated unsuccessfully and breakdown results, sometimes taking violent and even deadly forms, the dispute too often enters the public sphere as a ‘dowry problem’. This seems to be in part due to the fact that in today’s cultural climate, it is considered less humiliating to make allegations about dowry than to disclose what may actually be more about emotional or even sexual problems; and partly because Indian law has been framed in such a way as to suggest that only the pro-women anti-dowry laws can lead to some kind of remedy.
The book ends by attempting to address this problem, considering means to reform the statute law but also, more importantly, suggesting workable remedies beyond the law.