A class 12 sociology textbook published by the Maharashtra state education has a bizarre reason for seeking dowry at the time of marriage. The text lists “ugliness of the girl” as one of the reasons for the dowry system, which is one of the oldest, but still rampant, maladies affecting Indian society.
“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...,” the insensitive paragraph from chapter 3 of the book reads.
Though the book was used by thousands of students over the last two years to prepare for the Higher Secondary Certificate board examinations, the assertions drawn criticism only recently after some teachers took up the issue.
“When I first read the chapter on dowry, I was shocked. How can they write such things in a board textbook?” a teacher in Bandra school said in condition of anonymity.
Teachers says they avoid reading this portion of the text in the classroom. “We have to be very careful while teaching from this book. Students call this particular chapter rubbish,” she added.
However, Board chairperson Gangadhar Mhamane refused to comment because he “was busy attending a meeting.”