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July 04, 2018

Essay : Dowry - Curse to Indian Society

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Dowry - Curse to Indian Society

  • Dowry is an old custom. 
  • System of dowry in India : its transformation with time. 
  • Reasons for demanding dowry. 
  • Crimes related to dowry. 
  • Government has taken important steps. 
  • Dowry should be discarded.
"Gods reside there where women are worshipped". 
Even we are using this quotation since ancient era, it has its aspect in the present time as things have turned upside down in the society.

The dowry system is as old as the institution of marriage. It is a social evil prevalent not only in India, but other parts of the world. Many of the traditional customs have been given up but the custom of dowry has not only continued but flourished over the years. It reflects and perpetuates man's superiority over woman and hence marks a mockery on the very idea of gender equality.

In India, dowry refers to the durable goods, cash and real or movable property that the bride's family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. It is essentially in the nature of a payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to the bridegroom's family along with the bride. It includes cash, jewellery, furniture, crockery and other household items that help the newly-weds to set up their home.

The system of dowry also prevailed during the ancient period. Parents of the bride provided gifts, money, property and other household items to the girl out of their own wish. It was known as `streedhan' and was justified as the premortem right of the girl.

She was the absolute owner and even-her husband had no right over it. But with the passage of time, the definition of dowry changed. It became an important and a primary factor in marriage. It became necessary for the parents of the girl to give a good dowry to her irrespective of their ability.

The married life of a girl came to depend upon dowry. Several girls, whose parents could not afford good dowry had to commit suicide as their in-laws made their lives miserable. The worst part is that this evil led to the birth of another evil i.e. female foeticide. It becomes important to understand what causes such an evil practice to prevail in the society when we are moving towards modernity.

There are multiple reasons of dowry. It is a feeling that practicing customs generates and strengthens solidarity. A few people give more dowries just to exhibit their high social and economic status. Most of the people believe that their daughters should live happily with their husbands and hence provide dowry. Illiteracy is an important cause of dowry most of the people are unaware of the effect of dowry.

With the passage of time, dowry has involved many characteristics when compared to the traditional practices of giving gifts. It is no more a voluntary exercise rather it is demanded diplomatically. The grooms family may act modest but do not hesitate to accept precious articles offered by the bride's family on their own.

In number of cases, the bridegroom and his family shamelessly present list of things which they want. Today marriage has become a stepping stone to acquire more wealth and social status.

There is hardly a day when one does not read of dowry deaths in the national newspapers. Dowry is considered as a major contributor towards violence against women in India. Some of these violence include physical violence, emotional abuses and even murder of brides and young girls prior to marriage.

The predominant types of dowry crimes relate to cruelty, domestic violence, abetment to suicide and dowry death which includes bride burning and murder. In India, approx 247710 dowry deaths have been reported in past three years. As per National Crime Records Bureau data, the country has recorded 3.48 lakh cases of cruelty by husband or his relative.

The government has taken many steps to stop the abominable practice of dowry. A few of them are listed below :
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 marked the beginning of a new legal framework of dowry harassment laws. It prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of dowry and provides penalty for the same. 
  • Section 304 B was added to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which made dowry death a specific punishable offence. Anyone who commits offense under Section 304B or 113B shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven year but which may extend to imprisonment for life. 
  • Section 498 A IPC was included in 1983 to protect women from cruelty and harassment. whoever being the husband or relative of the husband, subjects cruelty under this section shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall c1.1 also be extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
  • In 2005, the Government of India passed the 'Protection of Women kr) from Domestic Violence Act' to provide a civil law remedy for the protection of women from domestic violence.

India is also a party to several international human rights instruments which provide theoretical remedies to the dowry problems. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICLPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Apart from this several women's organisations have come into being in order to check this evil. Media is also playing an important role in curbing this disease from the society. State Governments have also come forward with better legislation. Even the youth of the country is taking oath against this evil custom. Much has been done, but much more needs to be done.

It may be concluded that the abolition of the dowry system would be a landmark toward social reforms. With whatever intentions this custom may have been started, it cannot be denied that it has failed to give equal status to women in the society. The time has come to scrape the roots and branch of dowry system. Unless we become more progressive in our outlook, less orthodox in our ways and more revolutionary in our ideas, dowry will remain the bane of our society.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Perpetuates to preserve from extinction
  • Mockery joke or sneer
  • Popshow showing off the wealth or affluency
  • Predominant having ascendancy, power, authority or influence over others
  • Abominable hateful; detestable; loathsome
  • Covenant an agreement. usually formal, between two or more persons to door not do something specified
  • Curbing control or handle
  • Orthodox customary or conventional, as a means or method
  • Revolutionary radically new or innovative.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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