BTG: Illegal Tender – Backstory

Illegal Tinder was based off of some subject matter I was briefly introduced to while watching an HBO documentary entitled Love Crimes of Kabul based on imprisoned women awaiting trial for what Kabul, Afghanistan considered “moral crimes.”

Bride burning, which is what Illegal Tinder is about involves the wife being burned alive by her husband and possibly in-laws if the dowry for marrying her husband is not met by her family or if her husband’s family decides that they want or deserve more than what they originally asked for. This was not presented in the documentary but the information I learned from that doc led me to delve into unusual crimes and unfair treatment against women. This search led me even further down a rabbit hole of BS and injustice towards women that will later be explored in my work in the future.

I had never heard of the concept of bride burning until now, and I’m glad because it’s truly deplorable and inhumane. I am still on the fence about whether or not this act is considered a crime in the East Indian culture or just par for the course. The practice is outdated, but still used in certain areas apparently.

Having no real knowledge of the Indian culture beyond mehndi (also known as henna) gave me an opportunity to do a quick cliff note study of their language and traditions so that the story read as authentically as possible. I tried incorporating certain aspects of their wedding customs such as the saptapadi, the “dharma, artha, kama” chant and the mangalasutra necklace.

As for the title, I wanted to do a play on words (per usual): i-l-l-e-g-a-l means against the law or to do something unlawful and t-i-n-d-e-r is something used to light a fire, but it also means to offer money as payment when spelled t-e-n-d-e-r. Money is flammable; husbands are committing unlawful acts by burning their brides because of money. Hence, Illegal Tender was born.