Nisha Sharma: A War Against Dowry:
She is the face of hope. By putting away her fiancée behind bars for demanding dowry, she has shown that given will and courage the menace can be tackled.
May 11, 2003, was when the 21 year old became a media celebrity and Munish Dalal, her fiancée, and his mother found themselves behind bars.
Her detractors say that Sharma acted only when the demand for money and goods crossed the threshold point. But various reports of harassed bridegrooms and wives approaching the police inspired by Nisha point to a different story.
For instance, Anupama Singh of Delhi walked out of her marriage, minutes after it was formalised, after her husband's family demanded money. Similarly, Farzana Zaki of Ballimaran refused to marry after her fiancé demanded money and a house.
'A girl can take this step on her own,' Nisha said in an interview to Week magazine. 'She should realise that giving dowry never helps. If parents don't speak up, at least we can. This is the age where you put the pallu on your head as a mark of respect for your elders, but not to cover your eyes from wrong.'
Demand for dowry is widespread and for every case reported there are countless that aren't.
The 1995 figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau reported about 6,000 dowry deaths every year. A recent police report marks an increase in dowry deaths by 170 per cent in the decade to 1997.
An article in the Time magazine says that dowry deaths in India have increased 15-fold since the mid-1980s from 400 a year to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s.
An accurate picture is difficult to obtain, though unofficial estimates put the number of deaths (Himendra Thakur: Are our sisters and daughter for sale?) at 25,000 women a year.
Despite some negative reports, Sharma is undaunted. 'My parents are with me. We will fight it out. It is a matter of honour.'