Chandigarh, Sept. 1: Haryana, the hotbed of dowry-driven atrocities, has begun a clean-up by drawing the line for government employees.
The Om Prakash Chuatala-led government has made it mandatory for employees to sign an undertaking that there has been no exchange of dowry during their wedding. It has also appointed dowry officers to curb the menace.
The undertaking, which is binding under an amendment made to the Haryana Dowry Prevention Rules, 2003, has to be signed by the bride and the groom’s father after the wedding ceremony.
The undertaking is applicable to government employees, workers at boards and corporations and those employed at offices under the state government.
Senior officials at the women and child development department said there is also a proposal to extend anti-dowry programmes to universities and colleges, with students being asked to pledge that they will not accept dowry. The government crackdown on dowry-seekers stems from a seminar on domestic violence organised by the police earlier this year.
It came to light that crimes against women occurred in 68 per cent of lower-income rural areas and 90 per cent of upper middle-class homes. The crimes ranged from wife-beating to killings, with most of the violence being dowry-related.
Only 56 per cent of women in Haryana are literate.
The Chautala regime has appointed sub-divisional magistrates and city magistrates as dowry prohibition officers. They will ensure that all provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and the Dowry Prevention Rules, 2003, are implemented.
They will also try to stop those demanding dowry or helping others take dowry and will collect evidence for prosecuting people violating the Dowry Act.
The act says wedding gifts from relatives and friends will be recorded as dowry. The display of gifts — ranging from cash and clothes to jewellery — being presented has been banned and limits set on how many dishes can be served during the wedding. No more than two meals can be served.
The officers will be asked to create public awareness by arranging camps and organising anti-dowry publicity through the information and broadcasting department, panchayat samitis and other media.They will also conduct surprise checks and make discreet inquiries to find out if somebody has violated the act.