By Veena Talwar Oldenburg
The Hindu customized of dowry has lengthy been blamed for the homicide of other halves and feminine babies in India. during this hugely provocative ebook, Veena Oldenburg argues that those killings are neither approximately dowry nor reflective of an Indian tradition or caste process that encourages violence opposed to ladies. relatively, such killings may be traced on to the affects of the British colonial period. within the precolonial interval, dowry was once an establishment controlled by means of girls, for ladies, to allow them to set up their prestige and feature recourse in an emergency. on account of the big fiscal and societal upheaval caused by British rule, women's entitlements to the valuable assets got from land have been erased and their regulate of the process decreased, finally leading to a devaluing in their very lives. Taking us on a trip into the colonial Punjab, Veena Oldenburg skillfully follows the paper path left by way of British bureaucrats to indict them for analyzing those crimes opposed to ladies because the inherent defects of Hindu caste tradition. The British, Oldenburg claims, publicized their "civilizing venture" and blamed the caste approach with a view to disguise up the devastation their very own agrarian rules had wrought at the Indian nation-state. A forceful demystification of up to date bride burning concludes this remarkably unique publication. Deploying her personal reviews and stories and her learn at a women's guard with "dowry circumstances" for nearly a yr within the mid-eighties, the writer seems to be on the modern violence opposed to other halves and daughters-in-law in smooth India. Oldenburg seamlessly weaves the modern with the historic, the non-public with the political, and strips the layers of exoticism off an historic perform to teach how a useful security web used to be twisted right into a lethal noose. She brings us startlingly with reference to the worsening therapy of recent Indian ladies as she demanding situations us to reconsider uncomplicated assumptions approximately women's human and monetary rights. Combining rigorous learn with impassioned research and a nuanced remedy of a fancy, deeply debatable topic, this e-book opinions colonialism whereas keeping a replicate to gender discrimination in sleek India.
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Additional resources for Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime
The merchants and moneylenders had no need to sustain the traditional symbiotic relationship with their peasant debtors; they now foreclosed on the mortgaged property as quickly as possible and hired the dispossessed proprietor as an ill-paid, wage-earning day laborer. The corollary to this was that indebtedness generated pressure to deploy women’s resources—jewelry or cash—to rescue or enhance a family’s holdings within the ﬁrst score years of the ryotwari settlement, when approximately percent of the traditional peasantry lost their lands.
6 This state-of-the-art overview of the disabilities that women faced economically, socially, and legally reignited a feminist fervor that had dimmed after the passage of the Hindu Code in , which had given Hindu women some startling new rights such as the right to divorce and inherit urban property (but not agricultural land) equally with their brothers, and generally to beneﬁt from what seemed to be fairer laws for women. The committee that authored Towards Equality famously embraced the view that bride-price is a marker for the high value placed on women.
As mortality from famines grew, the queries became more insistent; imperial ofﬁcers generated questionnaires and reports to explain the horrifying immiseration of the victims as self-induced. It was simpler to exaggerate and condemn “wasteful” social expenditure—occasional feasts and gift giving, chieﬂy connected with wedding celebrations and dowry—than to acknowledge that governance by the British had created want among small landowners. Chapter presents the evidence for this. Chapter also explores the reasons that, despite sumptuary regulations passed in , the upward spiral in the costs of marriage in the colonial period continued.