Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dying For A Dowry

 Dying For A Dowry

Dowry system in India
Marriage or a deal
There are good traditions and there are bad traditions. Sometimes a bad tradition didn’t start out bad, but became so. This could be said of the Dowry tradition, which is rapidly becoming a nightmare for the parents of brides all over India. Formerly confined to the Northern regions of India, the practice of brides being expected to come with cripplingly large dowries is spreading South and East. The problems of the practice are clear. It reduces marriage to an elaborate barter system, where in effect the woman is being ‘sold’ like a lame horse in exchange for material goods and money to sweeten the pill. It reduces women to medieval chattels. It demeans them. It is unfair. Families with girl children are known to start saving for their marriage dowry the day they are born, which for poorer families damages their quality of life and the lives of their other children.


Why Allow The System

Thought to bring stability to the institution of marriage, and even encouraged by Missionaries in the early days, the bride dowry has done so only through coercion of the woman. So pernicious is this particular practice that the Indian Parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1996 to outlaw dowry related abuse. It has been wholly ineffective. Abuse of women as a direct result of dowry issues is high, with grooms and their families often making the bride’s life a misery through ill-treatment if she does not obtain more from her family. There are many cases of ‘Burning Brides’, which beggars belief. This hideous practice is carried out when a man wants to become a serial groom. Once he has gained all he can from a bride’s family, he will burn her to death with kerosene and testify that the death was suicide, which leaves him free to marry again and extort money from the next unfortunate woman he meets. It’s an extreme form of debt consolidation, but it is a way of life for some men. Government statistic on this type of offence suggests that more than 7,000 women a year die in this way, but the figure is almost certainly far higher than this.


Female Foeticide

The other social ill to stem from the dowry tradition is the practice of aborting female children in the womb. Suppose you have two daughters and find there is another on the way? How is a family of modest means supposed to cope with the dowry expected of them? So prized are men over women in Indian culture that the practice of female foeticide is tolerated and understood to some extent. The fact is that the tradition has affected all strata of Indian society, all classes and castes from the lowest to the intelligentsia, who seem somewhat slow to condemn. The value of daughters is low not just because marrying them off is a financial burden. The whole culture of betrothal seems designed to keep women in the Dark Ages. Many families don’t bother to educate their daughters further than the most basic level, simply in case an education makes them less attractive to men. It’s a ridiculous, cruel social ill that should be eradicated forever.


Economics

The economics of the dowry tradition are paramount. With women regarded as ‘of no value’ both culturally and in terms of bringing in a wage, the dowry is rationalised as ‘compensation’ for having to take on an extra ‘useless’ mouth to feed. The woman can feel trapped in a dire marriage because her family’s entire wealth is tied up with the new one. To leave would seem like a betrayal of her family. She has no rights to property or to the wealth that came with her, but nor can she leave without being a social outcast. Economic growth is thought by some to be the reason for the huge increase in dowry sums which seems to have occurred in parallel. With the rise of the consumer culture people have more desire for the goods they see in the shops, and this translates through to the dowry. It is not uncommon for dowry requests to include the provision of fridges, televisions and microwaves. With the socio-economic position of women in Indian culture so lowly there is absolutely no chance of her managing to survive outside the institution of marriage. The dowry system belongs in the Middle Ages, and until there is a decisive move by the middle and ruling classes to emphatically make this point, nothing will change. There is freedom for the groom’s parents to commit acts of extortion and freedom for men to murder their wives with a clear conscience. All responsible and forward thinking Indians must tackle this issue head on, as a matter of the greatest urgency.

8 comments:

  1. Many people in Inida only marries a girl for dowry and nothing else.

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  2. It has become a big problem and I think we have to be very strict while dealing with this issue now. Thanks for writing on this topic and sorry for a late response.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. K actually this problem is providing only because we are not putting our focus on removing this problem.

      Delete
  3. postingan yang bagus tentang"Dying For A Dowry"

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  4. very nice I am suffering from this problem.

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    Replies
    1. If you want to share something with world then you can definately mail us at mitesh_soni@rocketmail.com

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  5. vrey sad to know this !!! :( :(

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  6. i am suffering from this too it is very disgusting!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks.

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