An Indian bride who had her groom arrested during their wedding has become an overnight sensation in India, the BBC reports. Twenty-one-year-old Nisha Sharma called police when the groom’s family forcibly demanded $25,000 in cash minutes before the ceremony. Though dowries are illegal in India, they remain commonplace. The Indian media throughout the country has applauded Sharma’s courageous stand, with Indian feminists calling her as a role model for young girls. “This young girl has brought about a revolution,” Vandana Sharma of the Women’s Empowerment Committee told the AP. “She is a heroine.” The publicity has prompted a deluge of new marriage proposals for Sharma. Meanwhile, while the groom serves his 14-day prison sentence, pending formal charges against dowries, police continue seeking other members of his family.
Social prejudices continue to persist in India, where daughters are traditionally viewed as financial burdens on the family while sons are considered providers. High abortion rates of female fetuses have pushed the government to ban doctors from revealing the sex of unborn children, according to the Associated Press. In addition, thousands of brides die every year, oftentimes burned alive when families are late with dowry payments, or refuse to pay altogether. Almost 7,000 dowry deaths occurred in India in 2001, the AP reports. In the capital of New Delhi, police report such deaths are rising, with 1,902 cases already recorded in 2003. “With my voice, I hope many girls will stand with me,” Sharma told the AP. “I am proud of myself because I have done something really great for others.”