Abdul Latheef Naha
Nilambur is on the way to become the first dowry-free village in the country in a year.
MALAPPURAM: The ambitious dowry-free village scheme launched by the Nilambur grama panchayat has gained momentum with the masses and religious leaders coming forward with the resolve to do away with the practice of dowry.
People in large numbers attended the special grama sabhas convened to conscientise the public about the necessity of rooting out the dowry system.
Students responded with enthusiasm at the day-long workshops on dowry held in colleges.
“We are trying to stamp out the notion from the minds of ordinary people that girls after 18 years of age will not get husbands,” said Eby Thomas, a social worker and advisor to the dowry-free project.
The grama panchayat will soon embark on a door-to-door campaign to create awareness against dowry.
Mr. Thomas said the scheme would be a runaway success in Nilambur as it was not a hand-me-down project devised by the panchayat. At the planning stage itself, all sections of people were involved, including teachers, parents, politicians, government officials, senior citizens, students, business community, social workers, labourers and professionals, he said.
Now, it has become the responsibility of the people of Nilambur to take over the project, which is going to catapult the land of teak to a unique distinction of the first dowry-free village in the country.
Sachin Pilot, MP, had launched the dowry-free awareness campaign a few weeks ago.
Aryadan Shoukath, Nilambur grama panchayat president who devised the social reform scheme in the wake of a social survey that produced startling results, said that rooting out dowry had become a necessity as the society, particularly its lower tier, was being badly affected by this canker.
The survey had found that nearly 30 per cent of the people living in the lower level had been rendered homeless owing to dowry.
An average 15 dowry marriages were taking place a week in the panchayat, each involving cash and jewellery worth Rs.3 lakh in dowry.
The money that is spent for dowry in Nilambur village thus cumulates into Rs.2 crore a month and Rs.24 crore a year.
It becomes a liability for the society as much of this is in debt, Mr. Shoukath said.
The panchayat has plans to offer pre-marital counselling. “So far, pre-marital counselling has been an alien concept to the Muslim society,” he said.
The panchayat will also conduct mass marriages to help the poor as part of the anti-dowry scheme.
The panchayat has also chalked out plans to rehabilitate the victims of dowry abuse with the help of the Social Welfare Department.
“We have fixed a target of one year, within which we hope to make the people of this panchayat feel ashamed of taking or giving dowry,” Mr. Shoukath said.