Duu ba Duu programme: A movement by Siasat Daily against Dowry

Hyderabad: There is a silent revolution brewing within the Muslim community in the city, sections of which have been reeling under the effects of dowry and divorce.

A movement in the shape of the the siasat daily (TSD) and minority development forum organised Duu ba Duu programme which sits prospective brides and grooms and their families down, and as the name suggests, face to face, on an equal footing, to choose their spouses.But, one condition: that dowry must be rejected as should the jode ki raqm, or cash for the wedding attire for the groom.For many years the Muslim community , much like others, has raised concerns over dowry and what many describe as “extravagant“ weddings.

While several well intentioned people over the past few years launched big and small initiatives to discourage the practice, particularly because it was affecting those from weaker sections who found themselves in debt, a large number have either petered out or were just not effective. The issue of arbitrary divorce, particularly oral triple talaq, fiercely defended by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and now being challenged by Shayara Bano in courts of law, and maintenance, too have created a problem as many women continue to face social stigma on account of being divorcees. And while arbitration centres do exist in the form of Darul Qazas, the problem continues to persist. To make second marriages easier, apart from dis couraging dowry , the Duu ba Duu programme was launched around six years ago but met with little success in the beginning.

But the situation now has greatly changed. Hundreds of families throng the monthly or bimonthly sessions at designated places, register free of charge and begin talks. One gets to witness peo ple belonging to literally all age groups, professions and socio-economic strata.There are categories for brides and grooms who are engineers and doctors, for divorcees ­ both men and women even for madrassa products like aalims and aalimahs. There is a category for senior citizens who have lost their spouses, and records show that they do get married again. Even those with an income running into a few lakhs every month have registered. Then there are the between 40 and 70 daily walk-in registrations at the TSD office.

Interestingly, a cursory glance at the qualifications of both men and women indicates that prospective brides are more qualified than the grooms. Thus, suggesting that acceptance and access to education for women has increased over a period of time.

This has thrown up significant a challenge for men as the number of women applicants continue to outnumber men one to two. However, this too appears to be balancing itself out as the number of applications of women six years ago was one to six. There have been around 7,000 weddings till the 59th Duu ba Duu programme that was organised last Sunday . In addition to this, there are around five weddings almost every day .

The scale of the programme is so large that the TSD had to set-up an all-woman call centre to take queries, register and counsel applicants. All this at no fee, unlike several marriage bureaus which have mushroomed across the city , especially on the south of the Musi. And while Duu ba Duu programmes are predominantly city based, a replication of the model across districts can help the community to deal with coercive dowry and wedding arrangement demands.

—courtesy:Times of India