Sometimes you hear statements from the families of victims of patriarchy that are so frustrated and sorrowful they just completely break your heart. A couple of weeks ago, we heard the mother of the Rohtak gangrape victim saying that women shouldn’t give birth to girls, so that they would never have to see as horrifying a day as she was seeing upon the discovery of her daughter’s body. Today, it’s being reported that the father of a PhD scholar at IIT Delhi who committed suicide said that he wished he hadn’t saved money for her education, but for her dowry instead.
Manjula Devak was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her hostel room at IIT Delhi. Her family has accused her husband, Ritesh Virha, of demanding a dowry of between Rs 20 and 25 lakhs, ostensibly in order to start his business. Her mother says that he also pressurised her to discontinue her studies in order to join this business. Her mother asked her if she wanted a divorce, but she said that she was worried about the family’s reputation.
According to the Hindustan Times, there are rumours on social media that it was academic pressure that led to her taking this step. One of her colleagues, however, said that she was just doing fine, had published four articles, and that her PhD guide was happy with her. While it’s usually impossible to attribute suicide to a single reason, considering what her family has to say about her husband’s demands for dowry, it doesn’t feel unreasonable to assume that she didn’t do this because she was struggling with her education alone, but in part because her husband was a criminal who couldn’t leave his wife to be educated in peace, thought it was okay to demand a dowry, and couldn’t get his business started without one.