Entries in Mythbusters: False Allegations (2)


Money for nothing


Munish Dalal and his wife, Preeti. Photo: Simon De Trey-White

Munish Dalal was once the most detested man in India. In 2003, his then fiancee, Nisha Sharma, told police he had arrived at her house on the eve of their wedding and asked for 1.2 million rupees ($A23,000) and a car as dowry. In a country where demanding dowry is illegal Sharma was hailed for standing up to a greedy bridegroom, while Dalal spent two months in jail before being released on bail.

Over the next few years Dalal lost his reputation and his job. His mother, too, lost the teaching position she had held for 36 years. Meanwhile, the case was used in school textbooks to illustrate the social evil of dowry, with Dalal portrayed as the villain and Sharma as a courageous woman who took a principled stand.

But then everything changed. In February, a court acquitted Dalal of the charge. The judge found that Sharma had been in love with another man and wanted to marry him. So by falsely accusing Dalal of demanding dowry she was able to get out of the marriage to Dalal without angering her parents.

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Women who cry wolf

On January 29, a short article appeared in the The Age online. Four sentences of this article were devoted to the fact that Police have cleared two Collingwood footballers, Dayne Beams and John McCarthy, of alleged sexual assault following grand final celebrations in 2010. It stated that Mr Beams and Mr McCarthy denied wrongdoing and co-operated with the investigation. In stark contrast to the brouhaha that erupted when allegations were made by an unnamed female in October last year, the media have by and large glossed over this story. A mere four sentences pales in comparison to the deluge unleashed by multiple Fairfax media commentators baying for blood and decrying the rampant misogyny of the AFL.