The Women and Child Development Department has invited the International Chalu Union to run a meme contest ahead of the Anti-Dowry day on November 26.

news Dowry Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 18:11

One popular recent meme on the Facebook page International Chalu Union has six images of Vikram and one of Prakash Raj from the movie Anniyan.

The meme shows Vikram changing his personality from being a nice, timid person to the violent, scary guy as seen in the movie. But the lines are replaced by the meme-creator to show how a ‘dowry ammavan’ changes face, from being the nice guy who ‘just wants the daughter’ to the violent one who adds: ‘We know that you will give what should be given’. After three such panels, Prakash Raj’s shocked face from the movie is marked as ‘The woman’s family’, to show their response.

The meme comes with the hashtag #StopDowry and is part of an anti-dowry campaign taken up by the Women and Child Development Department of the Kerala government.

“The campaign began last Friday – November 15 – days ahead of the Anti-Dowry Day that falls on November 26. The Women and Child Development Department contacted the ICU to join them on this campaign by running a meme contest. Every day, we get many entries on our ICU group, which has about 5.5 lakh members. We curate the entries and post the selected ones on the ICU page, which has more than a million followers,” says Ahamed Shibili, an admin of ICU.

The memes got noticed when every day, at least 10 of these with the #StopDowry hashtag were posted on the popular page. Not just on Facebook but Instagram as well. “The posts have led to discussions on the subject, which is the whole intention of the campaign,” Ahamed adds.

The meme contest ends on November 23. Actor Tovino Thomas is the ambassador for the campaign and he will give away prizes for three winners at a function in Palakkad on November 26. “The winners will be selected by a jury formed by the Department,” Ahamed adds.

Several memes posted under the campaign have been applauded for their smart content. In another exchange, using a scene from the comedy film Ramji Rao Speaking, Vijayaraghavan and Sai Kumar are having a phone conversation. The meme gives these lines to the two actors:

V: Hello, I am the uncle who came to see your daughter yesterday.
S: Yes, what's up?
V: We had talked about a vehicle along with the cash as part of the dowry. What has become of that?
S: We have ordered a jeep.
V: Aha, is it Compass?.
S: No, it is a police jeep.

Quite a few memes underline the police action that dowry demands can invite. In one of the memes, actor Sreenivasan is the 'dowry ammavan' asking a man to tell 'them' -- the woman's family -- that there is locker facility in the bank. The man, a cop, replies: "What's near them is a police station with lock-up facility."

The ICU writes on its page: “Dowry is a huge social tragedy that still exists in our country. There is a lot of mental harassment faced by women and their families in the name of dowry. It should be a shame for us that arguments over dowry end in physical assault, suicide and murder. It is taking the progress-claiming Malayali backwards. We have to raise the fact that marriage is not a business and women are not commodities to be bargained for.”