This essay on Dowry System is sub-divided into the following parts: introduction, status of women, dowry laws, main culprit of dowry system and solutions.
Dowry refers to the valuables, money and other assets brought by the bride to her husband’s home on their marriage.
Dowry system refers to the customal or cultural practice that involves giving away of a large sum of cash, property and other valuables at the time of marriage by the parents of the bride to the family of the groom.
“Gods reside there where women are worshiped”. Though we know from one ancient culture and quote the above quotation, but things are quote different in our society.
Dowry system is among the major social issues in India. The legislative measures against the system are in place. However, all these efforts have failed to effectively eradicate the social evil.
Women in India are great victims of dowry system in our society, the male-dominated society. Dowry is illegal only on paper, in judiciary, or in legislature benches. Practically the daughter-in-law is generally treated as the goose that lays the golden egg. Once they stop laying egg, they are tortured both mentally and physically. Also those victims are driven out to leave the house or commit suicide.
Status of women in the society:
Females in India are numerically fewer than the males. In practical field the plight of women in India is pitiable now-a-days. Girls and women constitute Indian’s largest oppressed section. Indeed they are some of the staunchest upholders in a family set-up where not only women but girls are expected to bear the entire domestic drudgery, perform most of the parental duties as mother and sacrifice themselves for the benefit of their offspring.
Section 304-B of the Indian Penal code lays down that where the death of a women is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage, such death shall be ‘dowry death’, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
It is very good that the law has been imposed to protect the victims of dowry system but in adequate practices strengthen the oppressors. As for the parents of the girl, their guilt in marrying off their girl child to a dowry-hunter and thereafter shut their eyes to the plight of their daughter in her husband’s home is not punishable in law to some extent.
But who is the main culprit and why Dowry practice is still prevailing in the Indian society?
From ancient time we are seeing that the Sita, the Savitris etc. of this country are brought up from their infancy as second rate citizens who are inferior to their brothers. Now-a-days we are also observing the same, the different status of boy and girl in a family. When a boy is playing with machinery toys, a girl is playing with house-hold utensils-toy. When the boy reads story books, plays cricket, the girl of the same parents assists her mother in house-hold works. When the boy thinks about his futures that he would be a doctor, or an engineer or a magistrate, the girl thinks that how will she is married, how will she look after her child and so on.
More than four decades have passed, but the position status of women remains in a stagnant position. It is that we had the great personalities like Raja Rammohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar who did enough for the sake of women. In present time the leaders often cry for the plight of women for their voting purpose only.
Dowry and marriage system:
It is a shame that reaching at modern age, the dowry system is still prevalent in our society. Like untouchability and caste system, dowry system is not only a mere evil but also a criminal offence.
The marriage contract today is entered into more autonomously by both men and women. The character of the marriage contract has changed even more than in outward from. The traditional marriage ceremony in civilisation was based on the principle of male dominance and female obedience. But when the wife premises to ‘obey’ where this world remains in marriage ritual, she and her husband alike are aware of the ceremony is for the most part relic of the past. Choice of mate by mate and mutual determination of the relationship that hinds them have replaced the older external and one-sided control. In our male-dominated society, women basically depend on male-domination. They have an economic dependence on the male-spouse. From here dowry-system has come.
Solution for Dowry System:
To eliminate the dowry system people have to take massive steps against this system:
Firstly, illiteracy must be eradicated from our society;
Secondly, female members of our society be treated as like male members. They are the part and parcel of our society;
Thirdly, destruction of daughter foetus in the mother womb immediately be stopped and accused must be punished;
Fourthly, the women are to be introduced in every field of work not only in the house-hold work;
Fifthly, education to be imparted equally to the female like male;
Sixthly, working opportunity is to be given the competent female candidate. If economically they are self-sufficient, the problem will be solved partly. Now-a-days unemployment problem is also a criterion to accelerate this curse;
Seventhly, law related with marriage-contract must be amended and women have to give unconditional intention to marry like male. Their intentions have to be given great importance.
Eighthly, it is to be granted by the parents that a daughter is equal to a son. She has same right as son. Moreover, the female has to be conscious about her rights, necessities and urgencies in this society. Only some reservation of seats in railways compartments and buses will not solve the problem of women. The women have to capture their rights forcefully uniting against their oppressors. Otherwise, the problems will remain in the same position as before and as present.
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and ArticlesTagged With: Dowry System
Dowry in India
Dowry is another social evil which is affecting Indian society like a disease and there seems to be no solution or cure to this. In fact, dowry is a type of violence committed against women. This is a specific crime committed only against married women.
What is Dowry?
In simple terms dowry can be understood as a demand for money or valuables by the family of the groom from the family of the bride in lieu of their marriage. It is in a sense compensation or value being demanded by the groom’s family for the groom. In all possibility dowry system of harassing women is peculiar to Indian society only. Dowry is another dimension of gender inequality being practiced in our country.
In essence the system is based on the presumption that males are superior and for maintenance of the girl in her in-laws home she must bring a certain amount of money or property.
The system of dowry has become part and parcel of our collective conscience and has been accepted by the society as a whole. In a way it has become a customary rule for the society which is to be followed by everyone. The situation is such that if someone does not take dowry, people start questioning him and try to look down upon him.
Higher the income of groom or higher the status of his family, higher the amount of dowry is demanded. Caste also plays a role in this. Usually, higher the caste, higher the dowry has been the concept. But in recent times, dowry system has become an all pervasive exploitative system and it is only the economic position of groom’s family which is the deciding factor in demanding dowry.
Origin of Dowry
The origin of this social ill can be traced back to the custom or tradition of giving gifts to brides in marriage and this system of gifts was a voluntary system which had its sanction in our religious beliefs that the father of a girl has a duty to give a part of his property to his daughter in her marriage as after marriage she would be going to another home and the son would be getting the rest of the property of the father. So it was considered as a moral duty of father to gift a portion of his earnings or property to his daughter also.
But in earlier times this system was not an exploitative system where any specific demands would be made by the family of bride-groom, it was a voluntary system and family of bride would make gifts according to their capacity.
But in course of time the system of making gifts got converted and changed into an exploitative system of compulsory demands made by the family of groom. And the system took the shape of dowry system. As a societal evil it not only degrades the institution of marriage but also violates and diminishes the dignity of the women.
Dowry Death or Bride Burning
Related to the system of dowry and as an outcome of it is the inhuman practice of Dowry death or bride-burning. Each year thousands of young brides are burnt or killed by their in-laws because they fail to fulfill their ever-increasing demand of money or property.
Records show that there is an alarming increase in cases relating to harassment, torture, abetted suicides and dowry deaths of young brides. Only in 2010, more than 9,000 dowry related deaths have been reported which shows the level of violence being faced by the young brides. These deaths are, in reality, cold blood murders where an innocent girl gets killed only because could not bring the money or property demanded by her own husband and his relatives.
The most disturbing and unfortunate fact in such cases is that in most cases it is the women who plays the dominating role in said crimes and men in the family either act as passive supporters or active participants. And especially husbands have no regards of their matrimonial obligations of protecting and safeguarding their wives.
Dowry Prohibition Act
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986 makes both giving and demanding of dowry a punishable offence. But despite the Act, dowry system is continuing unabated and in fact it’s increasing by the day.
The humiliation and hardship which the family of the bride has to face is enormous. And this results into and becomes one of the motivations for other social evils such as Female Infanticide and sex-selective abortions. For the same reason female child is always discriminated against in households because they are considered as burdens on the family and to arrange dowry for her marriage the family do not think it fit to spent money on her education or food.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986 failed to check the evils of dowry system and it also lacked in providing solutions to the ever increasing menace of dowry deaths. So, the Parliament thought it fit to bring a specific provision to deal with the said crime of bride burning. Thus, through an Amendment, a new section i.e. Section 304-B was inserted in the IPC which creates a new offence in the name of ‘dowry death’. The provision in detail provides ingredients which are to be looked into in case of death of a married woman and if those ingredients are there such death would be considered as dowry death. As per the provision, maximum punishment of life imprisonment has been provided for dowry death to the husband or any relative of husband.
Though the said provision is there and cases are being reported regularly but the rate of commission of crime of dowry death is not lessening. Apart from death, various other forms of harassment, exploitation and cruelties are being performed on hapless married women.
Only very few such crimes are being reported because of the societal pressure and fear of break-down of marriage. Also, police authorities are not registering FIRs in dowry related cases due to various obvious reasons such as bribery or pressure from bridegroom’s side.
But above all, it’s the economic dependence and low level of education among women which are the real reasons for women being not able to lodge complaints in dowry or harassment cases. And such married women are bound to bear constant harassment for dowry and suffer in misery with no ray of hope.
Role of New Generation in Eliminating Dowry System
The real problem lies with the society as a whole which directly or indirectly supports and encourages the system of dowry. And there seems to be no ray of hope that the situation would improve in near future. Materialism is the main driving force for the people and in search of the modern day life style and comfort; people are willing to go to any extent, even to burn their own wives or daughter-in-laws.
May be the only hope lies in new generation of young boys and girls who are educated and of modern thoughts. They should come out in open and fight against this social evil and also starts protesting within their own families, if any such incident happens there.
Also, young brides should start protesting if any dowry demands are made by their in-laws and immediately make a complaint to police or proper authorities; they must stop being a victim and start to think themselves empowered as laws are there to protect them and empower them.
Otherwise, legal provisions shall remain there only in statute books with no actual effects in reality.
Social Reformers of India
Women Empowerment Essay