The practice of Sati has been a part of our society for ages with its inception being traced to the time of the Gupta period. Though Sati is illegal and is highly condemned in our society, the act of Sati bring performed in the 21st century has shocked people.
Since partition there have been more than forty cases of Sati, which have been documented. A majority of the cases have occurred in rural areas, with main reasons being attributed to lack of education and awareness of the law.
Sati has always been condemned even at the time of the Mughal rulers, Humayun, Akbar and Aurangzeb had made all attempts to abolish the practice of Sati. Several religious groups have condemned the practice with Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs speaking out against it. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, at the time of independence had fought to abolish the practice of Sati during the time of the freedom struggle.
The government has made its effort to ban the evil practice. After a few incidents that were reported in the 1980’s, the government passed the Sati prevention act of 1987 and also the Rajasthan Sati prevention ordinance of 1987, for most of the Sati acts were performed in regions of Rajasthan. Jaipur was also the last princely state to ban Sati during the British Raj in the year 1846.
The Sati prevention act of 1987 makes it illegal to “abet, glorify or attempt to commit Sati”. Abetment of Sati includes forcing someone to commit Sati. Abetment can be punished by death sentence or life imprisonment, while glorifying Sati is punishable with one to seven years in prison.
Our society has moved forward by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, but some old practices like Sati are still prevalent in rural India despite several attempts made by the government to ban them. The key is to spread awareness amongst rural areas and make the people realize the evils associated with this practice. Till such cases of Sati continue to be performed we cannot call ourselves a developed nation. It is a shame for our society till this heinous practice continues to go on.
  Copyright@ 2009 India Women Welfare Foundation