May seem a pragmatic solution since otherwise in a

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may seem a pragmatic solution since otherwise, in a traditional society, the woman's reputationis ruined. A future married to her rapist is preferred to one without a husband. Though itis hardly justice and it is not much of a disincentive for others to rape.The stories in Box 8.4are about action against bigamy. They illustrate the combinationof personal determination (especially from the woman concerned), mutual support (SHGmembers) and effective guidance (SHPA field worker) that can make the differenceagainst conservative, male-supporting, social structures. Though they also reveal againsome of the dilemmas - the compromises that women may have to make since theirsocial and economic status is seen to depend on having a husband.Box 8.3 contd(ii) Collective action and negotiation - after the murder of a young married womanFourteen year old Sunitha had never been to school. Her father, Venkayya a poorpeasant and a widower, married his daughter to Raju in Vedanagar, a nearby village,paying Rs 70,000 in dowry (for which he had to sell his 1.5 acres of land to raisethe money).Sunitha's married life was not happy right from the beginning. Raju and his familypestered her for more dowry. Things got worse when she failed to conceive threeyears after their marriage. Raju took this as an excuse and, it seemed, killed her bymaking her drink pesticide. Raju and his parents sent the body of Sunitha toPantulapally that very day, saying that she had committed suicide as she wasdepressed because of her inability to have a child. The rest of the village ralliedaround her family, and took the body of Sunitha back to Vedanagar, to Raju'shouse. Raju absconded. But nearly 100 women (SHG members and other womentoo) sat in front of Sunitha's marital home protesting against her murder, anddeclaring that Sunitha's body would not be cremated till Raju returned. At around2 in the morning, Raju returned seeking forgiveness and admitting his crime andwilling to undergo any punishment that the women decided.The village leaders then held a meeting with Sunitha's family. They felt that if Rajuwere handed over to the police he might, if convicted, be jailed for some years,and if not convicted, would go scot free. On careful consideration they asked Rajuto pay Rs1.4 lakhs (double the amount taken as dowry) as compensation to thebereaved family. Raju agreed, and Sunitha's funeral rites were then completed. Theamount was deposited after a month.
81Self Help Groupsin IndiaBox 8.4 SHGs support women's divorce out of a bigamous relationship,and her re-marriageNorth - with SHPA support against the village councilFrom a village in Rajasthan, this story goes back about 5 years ago, when, soonafter her marriage, at the age of 17, Kanta found her husband having an affair withanother woman. Her family raised the matter in the Jati panchayat(the committeeof elders from her Gujjar caste - BC) who decided that Rajendra should keep both aswives and treat them equally. Kanta was not happy about this, and eventually

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