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Word Count: 503
Priyanka was eight months pregnant when her neighbor rushed up the stairs only to find her aflame Her mother in-law had soaked her in kerosene and set her ablaze The reason Priyankas family had failed to meet the constant dowry demands of her husbands family Unfortunately SK is just one number among thousands in the long list of Dowry Deaths that occur in India every year Priyankas story tells that of many Indian women oppressed in a society that sees them as mere properties of their husbands As for SK for most Indian women marriage is the only option The rigid caste system in which they live doesnt allow any other way to go For families in the lower strata of the rigid caste system marrying their daughters to eligible bachelors in the higher classes and being able to satisfy their dowry demands is the only way to climb up the social ladder In this unfair situation in which a man with position can choose the family that offers the best deal the dowry demands skyrocketed Women then became a much-devalued trading goods among families Dowry was traditionally a voluntary present from the brides father to the father of the groom in a custom called kanyadan His daughter was going to become another member of her husbands family In the higher castes this meant another non-producing member to sustain and dowry was a way to compensate the grooms family for it But what was a voluntary gift has evolved into a way of extortion from brides and their families The fact that some important Hindu scriptures such as Manu-Samhita describe women as a property of the husband did not exactly help in this matter Even though many traditionalist groups have tried to see in this a religious justification for Dowry theres no doubt that the reason for this evolution is purely economic Dowry deaths are very closely linked to Hindu
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