Journal of South Asia Women Studies

A Women's New Year

Editorial Note by Enrica Garzilli

Indian Newspapers do not report all dowry deaths, because they consider it not a "news", but a routine matter. While dowry death cases in India are ca. 6,000 every year, Indian newspapers hardly report 60. Nevertheless, The Times of India of Saturday, July 31, 1999 published a rare report. It happened in a muslim family near Lucknow. The newspaper writes:

Newly-wedded bride burnt

Lucknow: Married barely four months ago, a newly-wedded bride was allegedly set ablaze by her in-laws in Bazarkhala locality here on Friday afternoon. With cent percent burns, the victim was battling for life at the KGMC till late on Friday night.

The incident was reported from Haiderganj Lakarmandi locality under Bazarkhala police station. The victim, Husna Bano (22), daughter of Mohd Irshad of Kuriyana locality in ALambagh, was married to Babloo in April. Irshad alleged that she was being subjected to severe physical and mental torture by her in-laws from the very next day of the marriage for want of dowry.

On Friday afternoon, Irshad was informed by some neighbours of Babloo that his daughter has been admitted to the KGMC with severe burns. In-laws of Husna claimed that she was preparing food when her clothes accidentally caught fire. However, in the FIR lodged by Irshad with the Bazarkhala police, Babloo, his mother Saira Bano and brother Sheru was named as accused who were later arrested. In camera declaration of the deceased have been recorded in the presence of a magistrate on Friday evening. The doctors at the KGMC described the condition of Husna as `highly critical'.

The above case will most probably be one of the thousands dowry deaths cases reported by the National Crime Bureau of the Government of India every year. Our journal cannot do much to stop these atrocities; however, we can report the situation. Above all, we want to remind women all over the world that in the last century we have done much for ourselves in terms of human rights and basic liberties. However, much has still to be done.

The wish of this journal to all women is that the new year will bring us more strength and endurance to be not only the half of this world, but the best. Happy Women's New Year!

I am very glad to announce that Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan, Academic Director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts in New Delhi, famous dancer and scholar has accepted to join our Editorial Board. We all thank her.

The paper we are publishing is Two wives for a perfect life: Nag'mati and Padmavati in Jayasi's PadmAvat as symbols of the integration of bhoga and yoga, by Giorgio Milanetti. He is professor of Hindi at the University of Roma La Sapienza.

I want to remind you that you can buy the collected issues of the Journal of South Asia Women Studies 1995-1997 which include a new paper by Taslima Nasrin, the 1995 Prize for Freedom of Thought and an interview to her.