Friday, May 16, 2003

Bride-to-be becomes feminist icon after jilting fiance

From The Scotsman

INDIA has a new feminist icon: a young bride who cancelled her wedding just hours before the ceremony after rejecting her fiance's demands for a dowry.

Nisha Sharma was supposed to marry last weekend. The Hindu priest and 2,000 guests had already assembled for the lavish festivities when she called police and demanded they arrest the groom, who then spent what should have been his wedding night in jail.

"He wanted material things - not me," Ms Sharma, a 21-year-old software- engineering student, said, her hands and feet still painted with intricate henna designs, the traditional hallmark of an Indian bride.

Police arrested the groom under the country's anti-dowry act - passed more than four decades ago to combat the ancient practice in which a groom's family demands cash, consumer goods and gold as part of a marriage settlement - but which is still widely flouted.

...

"My message to all girls is if they ask for dowry, don't give it and don't marry the man," Ms Sharma said in her living room surrounded by air conditioners, TV sets and other goods her family said had been demanded by her future in- laws.

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