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The brave girl who stood up

Critics said all she is interested in was her 15 minutes of fame. But pretty, petite and articulate, Nisha Sharma thought otherwise. As did and do many others.

The 21 year old showed that given will and courage, the scourge of dowry can be vanquished eventually. On May 11 Nisha Sharma called the police just before her wedding when her husband-to-be and his mother's demands for dowry became unbearable.

'A girl can take this step on her own,' Nisha told The Week magazine. 'She should realise that giving dowry never helps. If parents don't speak up, at least we can. This is the age where you put the pallu on your head as a mark of respect for your elders, but not to cover your eyes from wrong.'

After Nisha showed a way out, many harassed brides-to-be started approaching the police.

Women like Anupama Singh of Delhi who walked out of her marriage minutes after it was formalised when her husband's family demanded money. Or Farzana Zaki of Ballimaran in Old Delhi who refused to marry after her fiancÚ demanded money and a house.

Demand for dowry is widespread in India. The 1995 figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau reported about 6,000 dowry deaths every year. A recent police report marks an increase in dowry deaths by 170 per cent in the decade up to 1997.

Nisha's story has a happy ending. She married a software engineer at a quiet ceremony at her home in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi on November 19. "I have got my life partner. I want to forget my past. I am going to start a new life," she told rediff.com

Text: R Swaminathan

Also read:
Nisha Sharma a youth icon
Groom's mother arrested
Nisha takes up women's cause

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