In a rare gesture, Arif Mohammed Khan, Governor of Kerala, is participating in a day-long fast today against the practice of dowry, in response to a call made by Gandhian organisations in the wake of several recent instances of dowry-related deaths in the State. Several people, including prominent Gandhians, are observing a fast as part of an awareness campaign for ending atrocities against women and to highlight the need to make Kerala a safer place for them.
The Governor joined the fast, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Raj Bhavan and is also scheduled to attend a prayer meeting to be held at the Gandhi Bhavan in the city from 4.30 p.m.
On July 13, in a video appeal released as part of the campaign, the Governor called attention to instances of dowry-related deaths in the State and said: “The spectre of dowry continues to raise its ugly head in our State that has been globally acclaimed for variable social indicators like literacy and life expectancy…. Giving and taking dowry are criminal offences which attract imprisonment up to five years. More than that, it is a grave injustice and ignominy to the dignity of women whose contributions to Kerala’s growth are widely acknowledged. Let us make Kerala truly God’s own land where girls and boys come forward boldly to say no to a marriage that involves dowry. It will go a long way in creating greater awareness and ensuing gender equality and social justice.”
“Mahatma Gandhi said any young man who makes dowry as a condition to marriage discredits his education, country and dishonours womanhood. The ‘Sthreepaksha Keralam’ initiative of the Government of Kerala also emphasises the need to ensure the dignity of women by saying no to dowry and related practices,” the Governor said.
The death of two young women last month allegedly because of harassment for dowry and the arrests of their husbands subsequently led to shock and outrage in the State and shrill demands for stricter laws and their enforcement. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, too, had then made an emotional plea to women to say no to dowry when it was demanded during the time of marriage. He had also expressed his readiness to work as a volunteer to create awareness against the menace of dowry, a practice that continuing in the State.
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