No self-respecting educated urbane woman would want to enter a relationship which involves a demand for dowry in exchange for getting married to a man.
But almost all of them not only acquiesce to, but insist upon, alimony when separating from their husbands. Rare is the woman who considers the breakdown of a relationship as a mutual tragedy and does not seek to wreak financial or other vengeance upon her husband.
In India, dowry is considered reprehensible because it demeans a woman by considering her as a liability, but by demanding alimony, women are themselves reinforcing the belief that they are unable to live on their own and need the financial support of a man.
Female infanticide is pervasive because a woman is considered a problematic citizen, in various ways. It behooves a modern woman to be less of a problem for her parents and in-laws by not burdening them with her demands of gifts at the time of matrimony, by not discomforting them with her demands of an expensive and consumerist and hedonist lifestyle during marriage, and by not insisting upon a ghastly amount of alimony when separating. The more women try to treat others' hard-earned money as their right, the more will men hate them and the more will society consider them inauspicious.
In a recent conference in India about the dowry menace, a well-respected elderly lady professor wisely commented that though generally it is the wife's in-laws who are believed to be greedy, nobody considers that many daughters, when they get married, themselves demand a lot of things from their own parents.
The culture of consumerism, easy and disposable money, living for oneself, is perhaps excusable if one is working to sustain one's lifestyle. But if an adult woman, despite being an earning member of society, demands crippling financial favors from her parents at the time of marriage, and demands a huge alimony from her husband when she wants to leave him, I consider that to be a greed licensed by society.
Women are generally believed to be weak, oppressed, victimized. But that is becoming less and less true as they acquire advanced educational degrees, get married to a man of their choosing, have better opportunities in the job market, are career-oriented, contribute to household finances, and participate in how the household should be run. In a modern city, parents educate their daughters so that they may become financially self-sufficient and will not need to play a subordinate role once they are married.
But what happens to such women when their marriage turns sour? They insult their education, their parents, and their status as earning, privileged, urban women when they start indulging in extortionist litigation and legal terrorism against their husbands and in-laws. Such women are no better than those men who demand huge dowry and beat up their wives if their demands are not fulfilled. In fact these women are worse, because they rope in the heavily biased machinery of state to terrorize their husbands and in-laws.
If a man or his family is demanding dowry and if a woman is not comfortable with that, she can choose to leave him and start living separately. No such option exists for a man from whom a vengeful wife is demanding alimony. He will be hounded by the corrupt police force, he will be directed to present himself and his entire family at innumerable court dates, and he will probably lose his home, job and more.
Demanding dowry is a crime. Is demanding alimony also considered a crime? It should be, for a financially self-sufficient woman. If a self-sufficient woman abuses the process of law to blackmail her husband just because their marriage did not work out, she should be deterred. Instead, it is all over the place in urban India these days. Read the papers, visit family courts, visit marital counseling and mediation centers, read the annals of matrimonial litigation. A common theme across them is the demand of huge alimony once a marriage has broken down.
Maintenance is understandable when children are involved, but even in those cases, women fight tooth and nail to deny custody and visitation to the father, from whom they have no compunction in taking money for bringing up their common progeny. If democracies all over the world follow the maxim "No taxation without representation", the fathers' rights movement justly demands "No maintenance without visitation." Instead estranged wives alienate the common children from their father, fill their minds with bitter and hateful thoughts about a man whom they could not get along with, and thus scar the children for life by presenting a warped and devious view of humankind.
A leading professor of a US university was abused no-end by his feminist colleagues when he hinted that a father should also have a say in the birth of a child, because he is legally constrained to maintain that child for a very long time. Women want it their way, and want men to pay for it.
Have these women no shame or dignity left? On one hand they decry mankind as full of pigs and chauvinists and patriarchs, and consider their own gender as much more humane and empathetic. But don't listen to their words, observe their acts. When marriages break down, women leave no stone unturned to paint their former lovers and husbands as demonic, vile, utter blackguards who ostensibly do not deserve any leniency and who should be hanged until death, if such women had their way.
All over India, harassed husbands and fathers and their families are uniting in their fight against these unscrupulous women who call themselves modern and liberated, but who abuse the laws made for dispossessed, destitute, victimized, poor women. Laws for maintenance, laws against domestic violence, laws against dowry harassment, laws against cruelty are being misused day-in and day-out by urbane women from whom no dowry was ever demanded, whose husbands never as much as laid a finger on them, whose husbands treated them as equals.
Even the Supreme Court of India calls this unfortunate trend "Legal Terrorism" but claims helplessness in checking it.
The voices of the real victims are being drowned out by the cacophony of these witches. Too many shepherds are falsely crying wolf too many times for anyone to pay attention when an actual wolf is on the scene.
Such women cannot have it both ways. They cannot condemn men, and in the same breath, demand their help. It is one of the bitterest pills for a husband to swallow when he is ordered to pay his hard-earned money to nourish and support a selfish and greedy wife who has nothing but hate and venom for him. If such women had any self-respect left, they would support themselves with the fruits of their own labour, and not become vengeful parasites.
Dowry is considered an evil because a woman is a human being, and an exchange of money for keeping her alive and healthy is uncivilized. But how civilized is her own demand of post-marital dowry (called alimony) from her husband? Is she suddenly in need of being financially supported by men? If it is considered reprehensible for a woman's father to pay her husband or herself for her sustenance at the time of marriage, is it not reprehensible for a woman's husband to pay her (and for the woman to demand so, public fora) for her continued sustenance once he is no longer married to her?
I consider the demand of alimony from working women a crime and a form of extortion. If husbands refuse to agree to a demand for alimony, I have seen women go to any extent of fabricated allegations of dowry harassment, domestic violence, marital rape, cruelty, and so on. The courts are filled to the brim with civil, quasi-civil and criminal cases filed by these legal terrorists.
But the tide is turning against these women. There is a growing awareness of their greed and extortionist tendencies, and nobody believes their stories anymore. The courts and the police are being repeatedly told not to take their allegations at face value. Of course that also means that genuine complaints also languish. These criminal-minded women have done a grave disservice to their oppressed and genuinely needy gender-folk.