How has the practice of sati become "modernized?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a practice, sati, itself, is not as commonly practiced today as it was.  Villages are primarily where the practice, if undertaken, exists.  Even though the practice driven by men where women immolate themselves might not be as in existence as it used to be, I think we can find some modern examples of this compulsion from men to women in the name of tradition.  The dowry system is something that has become as oppressive as the practice of sati.  The attachment of a "price" to a women is very close to the attachment of a "duty" that she must burn herself when her husband dies.  Like the practice of sati, the dowry system has been banned by the government, but still lives in the villages in an outward manner.  Even in the urban centers, the mention of dowry is not evident, but it is seen as custom that the girl enter her husband's house with certain items with her, reflecting a dowry- like system.  The recent, "Angry Brides" game, is a modern statement against the dowry system.  I would say that the notion of dowry is a very close relative to the practice of sati in that both are male- centered constructs on the identity and expectations of a woman, with their justification residing in the nebulous realm of "tradition."