Dowry and crimes related to it are no strange news for any Indian. Even if one doesn’t particularly relate to it, everyone is aware of it. It is 2020 and the stupid culture of wedding gifts and demands don’t seem to cease at all.
Hello and welcome back, Let me walk you through what exactly is this tradition.
Back in the old days, when a marriage ceremony was performed India was majorly an underdeveloped nation where not many were educated and mostly the life was about agriculture. To make this life better, during marriages the brides family sent gifts or rather whatever was demanded by their soon to be in-laws to make their child’s life little better. These gifts would include, property, food, utensils, apparels, jewellery and a lot more.
Time moved ahead, and this tradition was taken forward instead of being abandoned. Now, even if the girl is educated and earns well to support her family, some people don’t shy away asking for money, apartments, land, cars, and almost all other daily required appliances, even if they already have those.
Dowry is an obligation, A condition of marriage from the bridegroom, his parents and relatives in order to satisfy their greed. It has a long history in many parts of the world, started as a transfer of parental property to daughter, and gift offerings ended up becoming a major cause of exploitation, cruelty and deaths of women. This centuries-old ugly tradition embarked many disapprovals, and later on demolished from most countries. But even today dowry is widely practised in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and some other regions of Southern Asia. It is an understood deal where today “whatever you can give” is a demand that has to be fulfilled or shall have consequences (sometimes).
Roots of dowry
The Indian Government banned dowry in 1961, but still, it is a common practice in India. A report says that there are more than 8,000 deaths per year in India,i.e. about 21 in a single day as a result of dowry. Most of the women commit suicide due to the long term harassment and abuse, and sometimes they are murdered by their husbands or in-laws when they fail to offer dowry amount. Women are brutally beaten up, kept away from their children, burnt alive or attacked by acid.
Dowry not only had affected the lives of women after marriage but also before marriage, for instance, female feticide. Girls are killed in the womb, and also after they are born because they are perceived as an economic burden to the family. Female feticide is the most brutal way of killing females yet it is practically and socially acceptable in India. There are many other factors prevailing fetus killing but having to pay dowry is a prime. Most families do not send girls to school as that will be a waste of money and the amount saved can be used for dowry purposes. Girls are often forced to marry at a very young age in India to avoid large dowry amounts. India has the largest number of child bride in the world and that number is likely to grow. Many families take dowry because when their daughter has to be married off, they will have to give dowry too.
Amount and Job go hand-in-hand
Every parent wants a family for their daughter which is of the same social status or above so that she can have all the facilities which will make her life easier and happier. In India, if a male has a better job and high social status, the dowry amount rises drastically. The bridegroom if has a government job then he is most preferred and suitable for the bride. Government job is considered as most prestigious because of job security, salary and status, and many men want government jobs because it increases the dowry amount.
In 2013, CBI filed a charge sheet against a judge Ravneet Garg and his family in the Geetanjali ‘murder’ case. According to CBI, Garg took Rs 51 lakh in cash, 101 gold coins, household items and a Skoda Laura car worth Rs16 lakh as a dowry when the two were married in 2007. In 2008, the judge also took a Skoda Superb car worth Rs 21.6 lakh when his younger brother got married. Geetanjali was tortured constantly for dowry, and later she committed suicide and left the note which was destroyed by Ravneet Garg. In the country where legislators are held guilty for dowry and murder, who can we count on then? Many cases are not even filed due to fear, and justice is taken to the grave with disregard. Justice is for those who can afford it.
Marriage is just a business in India, and the dowry amount decides how happy and easy-going bride’s life will be. Many families are against love marriages because they can’t ask for dowry, as couples have chosen each other irrespective of greed.
Financially deprived parents are most likely to take high-interest loans from the bank and money lenders, and often sell their dreams and properties in order to fulfil the dowry amount, ending up in a huge debt. There is also ill discrimination faced by women with some disability or health conditions because of higher demands from bridegroom’s family.
Dowry stands strong
Dowry is banned yet widely practised, child marriage is banned yet India has the largest number of child brides, female feticide is a crime yet takes place regularly. There are many reform movements working to stop these crimes because even though these are punishable offence, there is no strong fear in people that can abstain them against it. But not everything can be solved by growing fear. Dowry can be abolished from society but in order to do so, everyone has to take some part.
The times have passed along with this tradition, dowry may have been stopped in some families but where practised, is in a worse state. Indian marriages can be always seen flashing all way, there is also a pressure on families that they have to do even better for their daughter, or it is all because of the social status and show-off. There have to be luxurious gifts because people are judgmental. There are many families which didn’t take dowry just because the bride was independent working women. Sometimes the bridegroom denies dowry going against his family. Women education plays an important role here, and if one is well educated she can choose her life. Everything changes for her in the society where women don’t even have a right to take birth or have education, and where she is treated just like an object.
The century’s old tradition and greedy mentality is tough to change, but what if our education system taught students about how badly can dowry effect lives of women, while their mind is at the forming stage?