Swami Vivekananda famously said, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” Priyadarshni Academy observed that dowry, bride-burning and other abuses against women have been intrinsic issues particularly in rural society, and decided to set up an Anti-Dowry Committee, under the Chairpersonship of activist and renowned cine-artiste, Ms. Shabana Azmi, who played an active role from 1986-89.
This initiative was supported by then Maharashtra Minister of State for Education Ms. Chandrika Kenia, theater artiste Ms. Dolly Thakore, swimming champion Ms. Anita Sood, wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. S B Chavan - Ms. Kusumtai Chavan, renowned lawyer Ms. Anustrya Dutt, activist Ms. Sonal Shukla, and Editor of Femina magazine Ms. Vimla Patil.
The Academy’s Legal Aid Cell was headed by the former minister, Government of Maharashtra, Mr Marzban Patrawala, to offer all possible support to women at the receiving end of dowry demands and other abuses, with police protection as well.
While in principle this did offer harassed and threatened women an option, the logistical issues of providing them with accommodation and their children with education, became a major stumbling block. The movement also faced a major backlash from the families of the victims. Social workers were threatened with acid attacks. Many women from distress relief centers were parceled off into prostitution. Unfortunately, the initiative was unable to sustain because of legal hurdles.