Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of the Delhi High Court, while observing a dowry death case stated how people need to become aware of the “genetic science” behind how the gender of a child is determined and that is it not the woman but the man’s issue.
The case was filed by the father of a woman who committed suicide alleging that her husband and his family members would harass her for dowry and also mistreated her for giving birth to two daughters.
As per the complainant, the husband and her in-laws would pressure her for more dowry to be given to them along with other financial demands that caused her a lot of distress. The case further accuses the husband and his family of taunting and torturing her, both physically and mentally, for birthing daughters instead of sons all of it leading her to commit suicide.
The high court while denying the bail of the husband in the case made some strong observations that are still needed to be heard in Indian society today.
What Did The Judge Say?
Justice Sharma talked about how the gender of an unborn child is made from X and Y chromosomes, which come from both parents. But according to biology females only have XX chromosomes while males have XY chromosomes, so the chromosome determining the gender of the unborn child comes from the male.
The court said, “This Court having dealt with numerous cases of harassment, nagging and committing of suicide or dowry deaths due to the victim being victimized for giving birth to daughters after being constantly nagged that she has not been able to fulfill her husband and in-laws desire of preserving the family tree, is constrained to observe that such people need to be educated that it is their son and not their daughter-in-law whose chromosomes through union of a married couple will decide the birth of a daughter or a son.”
The high court commented, “Surprisingly, the genetic science in this regard is ignored according to which, the genetic determination of gender of the unborn child when the child is conceived, involves the combination of X and Y chromosomes, with females possessing two X chromosomes (XX) and males having one X and one Y chromosome (XY).”
“According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the outcome of fertilisation depends on whether an unfertilised egg fuses with a sperm carrying an X or Y chromosome, resulting in the birth of a girl or boy, respectively.”
The court further added, “Even if, this judgment becomes the birth place of such enlightenment, it will go a long way to change the mindsets of perpetrators of such crimes and save lives of innocent married women, by use of principles of science through principles of law.”
The court pointed out how there is a greater social concern that should be taken from the regressive mindsets still being spread even in today’s so-called modern times and such cases that bring to light how the insatiable demand for dowry still exists.
It said, “It highlights the challenges faced by married women, whose intrinsic value and dignity should not be contingent upon their parents’ ability to meet the insatiable financial demands from their in-laws.”
The court also observed how the notion of a woman’s worth only being limited to the dowry she brings to her married home goes against the ideas of equality and dignity saying “The notion that a woman’s value diminishes if her parents cannot fulfill dowry expectations of her husband and in-laws reflects a deep-seated bias and discrimination against women.
Such expectations not only violate the principles of gender equality but also contribute to an environment where women are objectified and reduced to mere transactions.”
While denying the bail of the accused the judge stated “In this Court’s opinion, in a society that emphasizes equality and strives for equal progress of women and women empowerment, incidents as the present one are etched as disheartening markers on the path of equal societal advancement for women.”
The court concluded by saying “The trauma is multiplied and becomes lifelong when the victim of a matrimonial dowry related offence gives up her life due to constant torture and harassment, especially when the two children she has procreated and loved who are her daughters also become a ground to nag, harass and traumatizing her, as if, she is solely responsible for giving birth to daughters.”
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