Dowry – A Social Evil That Is Here To Stay

Dowry – A Social Evil That Is Here To Stay

Of the many social evils that India wears as a crown of shame, dowry is one long-lasting and deep-rooted evil that is here to stay for a while. Just like many other social challenges in India, dowry is one which, time and again, shows the ugly and sick face of the nation. Needless to say, education has not helped to change the sick mentality of millions of men in this nation, who still boast what can be rightly called, a male chauvinistic attitude.

Defining dowry and tracing its seeds

So, what really is dowry and where did it all start from? Let us find out…

What is Dowry? Dowry refers to a cultural practice of giving large amounts of money, either in cash or in kind (in form of property, car, gold, electrical devices like refrigerators, ACs, etc.) to the groom by the parents or guardians of the bride.

Dowry – A Social Evil That Is Here To Stay

Tracing the seeds of dowry system: Dowry system is nothing new in India. Its history can be traced back to ancient India. Back then, it was a practice that the family of the bride would, out of love for the groom, voluntarily give some gifts in form of land or gold and silver coins or some kind of gift.

If not directly to the groom, the girl’s parents would give something to the daughter to help her start a new life in a different family. It was customary but not mandatory.

Over time, this practice got twisted as human greed started taking over human needs. It became and evil custom that has for long plagued our society. Sadly enough, this Hindu practice of gift giving that was later twisted into dowry system, has now been picked up by people of other religions who live in this nation.

Worst part, the system of gift giving has now been extended. The extended format is not limited to gifts during the marriage. As of date, groom and his family even demands money or other gifts in kind when the girl gets pregnant, or when she delivers a baby and even religious and cultural functions!

Why is dowry really that bad?

Good question! The answer to this question will be an eye opener for many. Dowry has taken an evil face and has become a means for torturing women.

As we said, the dowry system has now extended and the people who demand dowry are inhuman. They will constantly demand money from the bride. Threaten her of divorce, physically torture her and emotionally abuse her to bring money from her parents.

It should not come as a surprise to you that a high number of women deaths are reported each year  and most of them are related to dowry. It should not be surprising to you that literally hundreds of women become victims of domestic violence because of these inhuman demands made by their husbands and their families.

These cruel people who demand dowry often go to the extent of killing women by burning them alive or beating them to death simply because either the women fail to bring more money or they simply refuse to.

Worst part? These men then remarry and start the cycle of torturing and abusing all over again! They are shameless dogs. Perhaps, we are insulting dogs!

Why did we use such harsh words? Take a look at the table below. The data should be an eye-opener. This data comes directly from National Crime Records Bureau of India and shows data for year 2011 and 2012.

Crime Type (Number of registered cases) Year 2011 Year 2012
Dowry deaths (wives burned or murdered) 8,618 8,233
Cruelty against wives by husbands (and relatives of husbands) 99,135 106,527

If we focus only only dowry deaths, the table below should give you a very grim picture:

Year Number of deaths registered under Indian Penal Code 304B
2011 8,618
2012 8,233
2013 8,083
2014 8,455

Is this scenario grim enough? If now, here is one more fact you should know – 1 woman is burned to death every 1 hour and 30 minutes because of this dowry.

Uttar Pradesh is where this crime is at its peak. Following closely are Bihar and then Madhya Pradesh.

Shifting focus on cruelty against wives (not dowry deaths), there have been 3.48 lakh cases reported between years 2012 and 2014 with West Bengal topping the list and Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh trailing behind by a few numbers.

Of all crimes against women in India, rape gets the most focus but dowry is where most victims are found. Of course, rape is another inhuman act but just as much as rape criminals are brought to justice, dowry criminals should also be brought to justice. As a matter of fact, entire families of such cruel grooms should be brought to justice.

What is the government doing to prevent this?

What a brilliant question again! Sadly, we have a really heart-breaking answer for you. In year 1961, one act was passed by Indian government. It became known as Dowry Prohibition Act.  What followed? A few training programs, a few workshops, a few fairs and seminars… that’s all!

Have you ever heard of a court proceeding where dowry criminals have been brought to justice? NO! But why not? This is where it becomes a bit complex.

We need to say that the social problems of India are not independent of each other. They are interwoven. Caste system and dowry system are deeply linked. Since it is beyond the scope of our article, we will give you a link to a nice article you should read. It explains how caste has led to dowry inflation in India. Here is the link.

The politics in our country leverages caste system, thereby making eradication of caste system even more difficult. When it comes to electoral politics, disturbing the dowry system with shake the caste ladder. The end result will be catastrophic for political parties. So, not much is done about eradication of dowry system for the inherent political benefits.

Yes, NGOs have come forward, a few legal amendments have been made, women’s organizations have raised voice, police cells dedicated to women have been created but sadly enough, the practice of dowry continues and it remains the signature of marriage institution in India. Do you have any bright ideas to combat this evil? Think and share. Let’s fight together and put an end to this cruelty.  It is a crown of thorns that India should now throw away else, the plight of women in this country will never improve.

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