A paragraph in a class 12 sociology textbook published by the Maharashtra state education board, that states "ugliness of the girl" as one of the reasons why families pay dowry, simply beggars belief and ends up doing the opposite of its intended purpose — of creating awareness about the obnoxious social practice.
A report in the Hindustan Times included a screenshot from the section of the book that lists the reasons why families give and take dowry, and in that list, at the 12th place, is the unintended gem — 'ugliness'.
"If a girl is ugly and handicapped, it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry her, the girl's bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. The helpless parents of such girls are then forced to pay up as per the demands of the bridegroom's family," the para reads.
In a country obsessed with skin colour, women already face enough marginalisation, without being further victimised by such blatant, institutionalised misogyny. The ancient practice of demanding and accepting dowry claimed nearly 25000 lives between 2012-2015, according to government data.
Uttar Pradesh alone saw 7,048 deaths during that period, the largest among any state.
But there's more. The chapter not only just casually insults women, but also those with disabilities. It implies that the "helpless" parents of the differently-abled pay dowry to help their children get married. It lists "prestige" as one of the reasons behind dowry, inadvertently glorifying the practice, linking it to family pride.
The text book was first published in 2013, says News18. Which means that a staggering number of students would have seen the chapter, some imbibing it's toxic message.
The state education board chief GK Mhamane told News18: "I have asked for an explanation. I am out of station now and will return tomorrow. I will discuss it with the officials and will take action against whoever is responsible. We will discuss it with the Board of Studies."