Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said he is going to write the universities demanding an undertaking from the students that they will not seek or give dowry and in case of a court indictment later, it should cancel the degree. The Governor, who is also the Chancellor of Universities, was speaking to the media after the dawn to dusk fast, first of its kind by a state governor, to create awareness against giving and taking dowry in response to the call made by Gandhian organizations against the practice, on Wednesday.
The Governor said he had talked to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the fast. “He was enthusiastic about the gesture and said it deserves encouragement," he said.
He recalled the contributions of social reformers Narayana Guru Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Vakkom Moulvi etc who advocated the progress and education of girls.
The governor who was fasting at the Raj Bhavan here from 8 am, attended the prayer meeting at Gandhi Bhavan from 4.30 pm.
According to Governor, Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, Gandhiji’s granddaughter, rang up to congratulate him for the fast. Union minister V. Muralidharan, former Governors O Rajagopal and Kummanam Rajasekharan, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, former Union minister Kodikunnil Suresh also called on him.
The debate on the position of women in a family resumed in the state after suspicious deaths of three women in June, all below the age of 25, allegedly following domestic violence and dowry-related persecution.
Arif Mohammed Khan, in an unusual gesture, had visited the house of Vismaya, one of the girls who died at her husband’s house allegedly after being subjected to torture over dowry issues.
“Our beloved state of Kerala was recently in the news for tragic deaths due to dowry. It is said that the spectre of dowry continues to raise its ugly head in our State, which has been globally acclaimed for enviable social indicators like literacy and life expectancy. This emphasizes the urgent need for strong social intervention to stamp out the evil practice of Dowry," the Governor said in a message before the fast.
" The Sthree Paksha Keralam initiative of the Government of Kerala also emphasizes the need to ensure the dignity of our women by saying ‘No’ to dowry and related practices. Giving and taking dowry are criminal offences, which attract imprisonment of 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," he added.
Governor is also planning to seek the support of MLAs and other people’s representatives to strengthen the campaign and to avoid going to marriage where they realize that dowry has been demanded.
In the last five years, as per the state police’ crime records bureau, 66 cases of dowry-related deaths and over 15,000 cases of harassment at the hands of the husband or his relatives have been recorded in the state. According to the provided by the Kerala State Women’s Commission, since 2010, almost 1,100 cases specifically of dowry-related harassment have come to its attention with almost half of the cases from the capital district of Thiruvananthapuram.