Essay Dowry System Wikipedia

Dowry deaths are deaths of women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.

Dowry deaths are found in Australia, [1] India,[2] Pakistan,[3] Bangladesh,[4] and Iran.[5][6] India reports the highest total number of dowry deaths with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women. Adjusted for population, Pakistan, with 2,000 reported such deaths per year, has the highest rate of dowry death at 2.45 per 100,000 women.[7][8]

Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women, alongside rape, bride burning, eve teasing, and acid throwing.

India[edit]

Further information: Dowry system in India

Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire by her husband or inlaws ; this is known as "bride burning", and sometimes disguised as suicide or accident. Death by burning of Indian women have been more frequently attributed to dowry conflicts.[9] In dowry deaths, the groom's family is the perpetrator of murder or suicide.[10]

India has by far the highest number of dowry related deaths in the world according to Indian National Crime Record Bureau. In 2012, 18,233 dowry death cases were reported across India.[2] This means a bride was burned every 90 minutes, or dowry issues cause 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India.[11][12]Crime statistics in IndiaArchived January 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Government of India (2011)

According to a 1996 report by Indian police, every year it receives over 2,500 reports of bride-burning.[13] The Indian National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that there were about 8331 dowry death cases registered in India in 2011.[2] Incidents of dowry deaths during the year 2008 (8172) have increased by 14.4 per cent over 1998 level (7146),[14] while India's population grew at 17.6% over the 10-year period.[15] The accuracy of these figures have received a great deal of scrutiny from critics who believe dowry deaths are consistently under-reported.[16]

Dowry deaths in India is not limited to any specific religion. The ratio of dowry deaths are about the same as the ratio of population in India by religions.[17][18][19]

Prohibition[edit]

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to ₹5,000 (US$77, £63 or A$98). It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states.[20] Murder and suicide under compulsion are addressed by India's criminal penal code.

Indian women's rights activists campaigned for more than 40 years to contain dowry deaths, such as the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and the more stringent Section 498a of Indian Penal Code (enacted in 1983). Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA), a woman can put a stop to the dowry harassment by approaching a domestic violence protection officer.

Although Indian laws against dowries have been in effect for decades, they have been largely criticised as being ineffective.[21] The practice of dowry deaths and murders continues to take place unchecked in many parts of India and this has further added to the concerns of enforcement.[22]

Pakistan[edit]

In Pakistan, the giving and expectation of a dowry (called Jahez) is part of the culture, with over 95% of marriages in every region of Pakistan involving transfer of a dowry from the bride's family to a groom's family.[23]

Dowry deaths have been rising in Pakistan for decades.[24][25][26] Dowry-related violence and deaths have been widespread for many decades.[27][28][29] At over 2000 dowry-related deaths per year, and annual rates exceeding 2.45 deaths per 100,000 women from dowry-related violence, Pakistan has the highest reported number of dowry death rates per 100,000 women in the world.[30][31]

There is some controversy on the dowry death rates in Pakistan. Some publications suggest Pakistan officials do not record dowry deaths, the death rates are culturally under-reported and may be significantly higher. For example, Nasrullah reports total average annual stove burn rates of 33 per 100,000 women in Pakistan, of which 49% were intentional, or an average annual rate of about 16 per 100,000 women.[32][33][34]

Pakistan's Dowry and Marriage Gifts (Restriction) Bill, 2008, restricts dowry to PKR 30,000 (~US$300) while the total value of bridal gifts is limited to PKR 50,000.[35] The law made demands for a dowry by the groom's family illegal, as well as public display of dowry before or during the wedding. However, this and similar anti-dowry laws of 1967, 1976 and 1998, as well as Family Court Act of 1964 have proven to be unenforceable. Activists such as SACHET, Pakistan claim the police refuse to register and prosecute allegations of dowry-related domestic violence and fatal injuries.[36]

Various military and democratically elected civil governments in Pakistan have tried to outlaw traditional display of dowry and expensive parties (walima). One such attempt was the Act of 1997, Ordinance (XV) of 1998 and Ordinance (III) of 1999. These were challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The petitioner cited a number of hadiths under religious Sharia laws to demonstrate that Islam encouraged walima and related customary practices. The petitioner claimed that the Pakistan government's effort to enact these laws are against the injunctions of Islam. The Supreme Court ruled these laws and ordinances unconstitutional.[36]

Bangladesh[edit]

In Bangladesh, dowry is called joutuk, and a significant cause of deaths as well. Between 0.6 and 2.8 brides per year per 100,000 women are reported to die because of dowry-related violence in recent years.[37][38] The methods of death include suicides, fire and other forms of domestic violence. In 2013, Bangladesh reported 4,470 women were victims of dowry-related violence over a 10-month period, or dowry violence victimized about 7.2 brides per year per 100,000 women in Bangladesh.[4]

Iran[edit]

Dowry is an ancient custom of Persia, and locally called jahīz (sometimes spelled jahaz or jaheez, ج‍ﮩ‍یز).[39][40] Dowry-related violence and deaths in Iran are reported in Iranian newspapers, some of which appear in English media.[41] Kiani et al., in a 2014 study, report dowry deaths in Iran.[6]

International efforts at eradication[edit]

Reports of incidents of dowry deaths have attracted public interest and sparked a global activist movement seeking to end the practice. Of this activist community, the United Nations (UN) has played a pivotal role in combating violence against women, including dowry deaths.

United Nations[edit]

The United Nations has been an advocate for women's rights since its inception in 1945, explicitly stating so in its Charter’s Preamble,[42] the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[43] (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[44] (adopted in 1966), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[45] (also adopted in 1966) (these three documents are known collectively as the International Bill of Rights[46]) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)[47] (2012).

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), though predominately focused on improving the quality of education available to children globally, has also taken a proactive stance against dowry death. On March 9 (International Women's Day), 2009, at a press conference in Washington D.C., UNICEF's Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman, publicly condemned dowry deaths and the legislative systems which allow the culprits to go unpunished.[48] In 2009, UNICEF launched its first Strategic Priority Action Plan for Gender Equality, which was followed by a second Action Plan in 2010. The aim of these plans has been to make gender equality a higher priority within all international UNICEF programs and functions.[49]

Private organizations[edit]

Amnesty International, in an effort to educate the public, has cited dowry deaths as a major contributor to global violence against women.[50] Also, in their annual human rights evaluations, Amnesty International criticizes India for the occurrences of dowry deaths as well as the impunity provided to its perpetrators.[51]

Human Rights Watch has also criticized the Indian government for its inability to make any progress towards eliminating dowry deaths and its lackluster performance for bringing its perpetrators to justice in 2011.[52] In 2004, the Global Fund for Women launched its "Now or Never" funding project. This campaign hopes to raise funds domestically and consequently finance the efforts of feminist organizations across the globe - including Indian women's rights activists. As of 2007 the Now or Never fund has raised and distributed about $7 million.[53]

A relatively smaller organization, V-Day, has dedicated itself to ending violence against women. By arranging events such as plays, art shows, and workshops in communities and college campuses across the United States, V-Day raises funds and educates the public on topics of gender-based violence including dowry death.[54] Full-length plays on dowry deaths include 'The Bride Who Would Not Burn'[55]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^[1]
  2. ^ abc"National Crime Statistics (page 196)"(PDF). National Crime Records Bureau, India. 2013-01-16. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-01-02. 
  3. ^PAKISTAN: The social injustice behind the practice of dowry-when greed dictates society Asian Human Rights Commission (2014)
  4. ^ abUN Women, Bangladesh Report 2014 - Annexes United Nations (May 2014), Table 6 page xiii
  5. ^Isfahan man kills daughter over inability to pay dowry Public Broadcasting Service, Washington DC (August 16, 2010)
  6. ^ abKiani et al. (2014), A Survey on Spousal Abuse of 500 Victims in Iran, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 35(1):50-54, March 2014
  7. ^Subhani, D., Imtiaz, M., & Afza, S. (2009), To estimate an equation explaining the determinants of Dowry, MePRC Journal, University of Munich, Germany
  8. ^Anderson, Siwan (2000), "The economics of dowry payments in Pakistan", Mimeo, Tilburg University Press, Center for Economic Research
  9. ^Kumar, Virendra (Feb 2003). "Burnt wives". Burns. 29 (1): 31–36. doi:10.1016/s0305-4179(02)00235-8. 
  10. ^Oldenburg, V. T. (2002). Dowry murder: The imperial origins of a cultural crime. Oxford University Press.
  11. ^Provisional 2011 Census Data, Government of India (2011)
  12. ^Crime statistics in IndiaArchived January 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Government of India (2011)
  13. ^Bride-burning claims hundreds in India: Practice sometimes disguised as suicide or accidentCNN, August 18, 1996.
  14. ^Point No.17, Dowry DeathsArchived 2011-06-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^Decadal Growth Rates in India Census of India, Government of India, New Delhi (2012)
  16. ^Caleekal, Anuppa. "Dowry Death". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  17. ^Waheed, Abdul (February 2009). "Dowry among Indian muslims: ideals and practices". Indian Journal of Gender Studies. Sage. 16 (1): 47–75. doi:10.1177/097152150801600103. 
  18. ^Newman, A. (1992). For Richer, For Poorer, Til Death Do Us Part: India's Response to Dowry Deaths. ILSA J. Int'l L., 15, 109.
  19. ^Kulshrestha, P., Sharma, R. K., & Dogra, T. D. (2002); The study of sociological and demographical variables of unnatural deaths among young women in South Delhi within seven years of marriage, Hindu, 103(88.03), 88-03.
  20. ^Section 1-4, Dowry Act
  21. ^Manchandia, Purna (2005). "Practical Steps towards Eliminating Dowry and Bride-Burning in India". Tul. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 13: 305–319. 
  22. ^Spatz, Melissa (1991). "A "Lesser" Crime: A Comparative Study of Legal Defenses for Men Who Kill Their Wives". Colum. J. L. & Soc. Probs. 24: 597, 612. 
  23. ^Zeba Sathar, Cynthia Lloyd, et al. (2001–2002) "Adolescents and Youth in Pakistan"Archived 2014-03-12 at the Wayback Machine. pp.92-116, Population Council (with support from UNICEF)
  24. ^Yasmeen, S. (1999) "Islamisation and democratisation in Pakistan: Implications for women and religious minorities", South Asia Journal of South Asian Studies 22(s1), pages 183-195 doi:10.1080/00856408708723381
  25. ^Ibraz, T. S., Fatima, A., & Aziz, N. (1993) "Uneducated and Unhealthy: The Plight of Women in Pakistan"Archived 2014-11-07 at the Wayback Machine. [with Comments], The Pakistan Development Review Vol.32 No.4 pp.905-915
  26. ^Niaz, U. "Women's mental health in Pakistan". World Psychiatry. 3: 60–2. PMC 1414670. PMID 16633458. 
  27. ^Hussain, R. (1999) "Community perceptions of reasons for preference for consanguineous marriages in Pakistan", Journal of Biosocial Science Vol.31 No.4 pp.449-461
  28. ^Shah, K. (1960). "Attitudes of Pakistani students toward family life", Marriage and Family Living Vol.22 No.2 pp. 156-161
  29. ^Korson, J. H., & Sabzwari, M. A. (1984). "Age and Social State at Marriage, Karachi, Pakistan 1961-64 and 1980: A Comparative Study", Journal of Comparative Family Studies 15(2), pp. 257-279.
  30. ^Operational Note: Pakistan Refworld, A United Nations initiative (August 2011), see pages 16-21
  31. ^Subhani, D., Imtiaz, M., & Afza, S. (2009). To estimate an equation explaining the determinants of Dowry
  32. ^Nasrullah; Muazzam (2010). "Newspaper reports: a source of surveillance for burns among women in Pakistan". Journal of Public Health. 32 (2): 245–249. 
  33. ^Juliette Terzieff (October 27, 2002) "Pakistan's Fiery Shame: Women Die in Stove Deaths"WeNews, New York
  34. ^Miller, B. D. (1984). "Daughter neglect, women's work, and marriage: Pakistan and Bangladesh compared"]". Medical anthropology. 8 (2): 109–126. doi:10.1080/01459740.1984.9965895. 
  35. ^Ashraf Javed (June 9, 2013) "Done to a daughter over dowry", The Nation (Pakistan)
  36. ^ ab(2006) Fight Against DowryArchived November 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., SACHET (Pakistan); also see Dr. A.Q. Khan's July 2003 foreword on widespread Dowry problems to the Prime Minister of Pakistan
  37. ^Shahnaz Huda (2006), Dowry in Bangladesh: Compromizing Women’s Rights, South Asia Research, November vol. 26 no. 3, pages 249-268
  38. ^Women’s Safety: Ghosts on the ProwlArchived November 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Mahfuzur Rahman, Dhaka Courier, January 26, 2012
  39. ^Steingass Persian-English, University of Chicago, See explanation for Jahiz
  40. ^Persian English Dictionary see Dowry
  41. ^Isfahan man kills daughter over inability to pay dowry Public Broadcasting Service, Washington DC (August 16, 2010)
  42. ^"Charter of the United Nations: Preamble". United Nations. Archived from the original on 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  43. ^"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights". United Nations. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  44. ^"International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 2012-09-04. [permanent dead link]
  45. ^"International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  46. ^"International Law". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  47. ^"Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women". United Nations. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  48. ^"Statement of UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on International Women's Day". UNICEF. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  49. ^"UNICEF Strategic Priority Action Plan for Gender Equality: 2010-2012". UNICEF. 
  50. ^"Violence Against Women Information". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  51. ^"India". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  52. ^"India: Disappointing Year for Human Rights". 2012-09-04. Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. 
  53. ^"Her Majesty Queen Noor and Nancy Pelosi Join GFW to Announce Endowment for the World's Women". Global Fund For Women. Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  54. ^"Dowry Deaths & Bride Burning". V-Day. Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  55. ^https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urRejbq8dbs

Further reading[edit]

  • Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime, by Veena Talwar Oldenburg. Published by Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Dowry and Protection to Married Women, by Paras Diwan, Peeyushi Diwan. Published by Deep & Deep Publications, 1987.
  • Crime in Marriages, a Broad Spectrum, by Poornima Advani. Published by Gopushi Publishers, 1994.
  • Encyclopaedia of violence against women and dowry death in India, by Kalpana Roy. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 1999. ISBN 81-261-0343-4.
  • Dowry Death in India, by Geetanjali Mukherjee. Published by Indian Publishers Distributors, 1999. ISBN 81-7341-091-7.
  • Dowry Death, by Kamakshya Prasad, Jawaid Ahmad Khan, Hari Nath Upadhyaya. Published by Modern Law Publications, 2000. ISBN 81-87629-04-5.
  • Women in South Asia: Dowry Death and Human Rights Violations, by Pramod Kumar Mishra. Published by Authorspress, 2000. ISBN 81-7273-039-X.
  • Dowry murder: the imperial origins of a cultural crime, by Veena Talwar Oldenburg. Published by Oxford University Press US, 2002. ISBN 0-19-515071-6.
  • Death by Fire: Sati, Dowry, Death, and Female Infanticide in Modern India, by Mala Sen. Published by Rutgers University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8135-3102-0.
  • A Most Unsuitable Girl: A Play on Dowry Deaths, by Rajesh Talwar. Published by Gyan Publishers, 2003. ISBN 8178351102

External links[edit]

Marriage is an integral part of society, a source of joy and festivities as well as of new beginnings. Yet, one of the longest standing evils associated with marriage from a woman’s point of view in the Indian society is the Dowry system. Despite a lot being said and done against the custom, it is still prevalent in the 21st century, in both subtle and obvious ways. The root of a host of social atrocities against women, the custom of presenting dowry is the crudest expression of the male-dominance in the society. It is most often the mandatory custom of a girl’s parents having to provide a considerable amount of cash, gold in the form of jewelry, electronic equipment, movable or immovable properties, to the groom and his family, at the time of marriage. Although the origin of the custom lies with parents trying to assure financial stability for their daughters, in current perspective it has translated into parents paying up for the assurance of well-being of their daughters. The jewelry and cash that a bride brings with her from her parents’ house is often referred to as “Streedhan” and in theory is the property of the girl, but in reality it is often treated as their rightful due by the groom’s family. The sum to be paid as dowry has no set standard, the yardstick greatly depends on the groom’s profession/social standing and is often perceived as the groom’s family as the compensation of efforts they have made to educate their boy. In a more subtle perspective, one may define this custom as the unquestioned idea that the girl’s family is inferior in standing with the boy’s family, no matter what her qualities are. Thus they need to be on their best behavior and offer lavish “gifts” to please the boy’s family. This ideal is so ingrained in the psyche of a large number of Indians, they either practically ruin themselves financially in order to pay for the appropriate price of the chosen groom, or make a bid to eradicate the prospect of this financial burden by selective gender-biased abortion or female infanticide.This exploitative system that has turned the custom of giving gifts and well wishes into a compulsory demand for money, respect and subjugation, is the one of the major contributing factors hindering the growth of the Indian society where being a woman is still viewed synonymous to being a burden.

 

Causes of Dowry System

1. Greed Factor – dowry demands often is exemplary of the collective greed of the society. Extortion in the name of social standing, compensation for the cost of groom’s education, his financial stability is a key feature of Indian marriages. Demands are put forward shamelessly and are expected to be met with silence. Threats of withdrawing the proposal looms on the bride’s family’s head at the cost of losing face in the community, and portions of the agreed upon sum is often demanded before the actual ceremony.

2. Society Structure – the dowry system is largely the manifestation of the patriarchal nature of the Indian society where men are considered superior to women in aspects of physical and mental capabilities. With the backdrop of such societal structure, women are often considered second-tier citizens, fit to assume only domesticated roles. Such perceptions are often associated of them being treated as a burden in economic terms first by the father and then by the husband. This feeling is further compounded by the dowry system which fuels the belief that girl child is a potential cause of drain of family finances.

 

3. Religious Dictates – Religious constraints imposed by the society on marriage customs, mainly suitability of groom have a contributing factor towards the dowry problem. These constraints do not condone inter-religious marriages or even between different religious sects and a suitable groom has to be found from the same religious backgrounds. These restrictions limit the number of suitable matches. Boys of marriageable age with desirable qualifications become a prize and this in turn encourages the practice of the catch being caught by the highest bidder.

4. Social Constraints – Aside from similar religious backgrounds, further constrains are imposed based on caste system and social status. Practices like caste endogamy and clan exogamy, has to be kept in mind while arranging a match. Preferred matches have to belong to the same caste, different clan and same or higher social standings. These limitations again severely deplete the pool of marriageable men leading to similar consequences for demanding dowry.

 

5. Social Status of Women – the inferior social standing of women in Indian society is so deep-rooted in the psyche of the nation, that this treatment of them as mere commodities is accepted without question, not only by the family but by the women themselves. When marriage is viewed as the ultimate achievement for women, evil practices like dowry takes its roots deeper in the society.

6. Illiteracy – lack of formal education is another cause for the prevalence of the dowry system. A large number of women are deliberately kept from schools either due to certain superstitions or from the belief that educating girls will take away from their eligibility as good wives.

7. Propulsion Towards Adhering to Customs – Indians value traditions a lot and they tend not to question customs. They follow traditions blindly and provide dowry because it is the norm handed down through generations.

 

8. Urge to Show Off – dowry is often a means for showing off social stature in our country. One’s worth in society is often measured by how much one spends in daughter’s wedding or how much gold one gives to them. This perspective heavily justifies the practice of dowry demands. The boy’s family in turns gains new heights of social standings based of the amount of dowry their new bride brings in which is indicator of how desirable their boy was in the marriage market.

 

Effects of Dowry System

1. Short Term Effects of Dowry System – these effects of the dowry system are immediate and are a permanent fixture in the daily news.

a. Injustice towards girls – dowry bears a huge financial obligation for the bride’s family. As a consequence, a girl child is viewed a possible source of drain on the family’s finances, ultimately an onus. This view evolves into gigantic proportions taking the shape of infanticides and feticides of girl child. Girls are often marginalized in the areas of education where boys of the family are given preference. They are thrust towards domestic chores from a very early age. A host of restrictions are imposed on them in the name of family honour and they are made to stay indoors. Child marriages are still practiced because age is counted as an index of purity. It also stems from the belief that young girls can be better molded into the household roles than older girls. The amount of dowry increases according to the girl’s age, fuelling the practice.

b. Violence against women – contrary to hopeful parents, dowry is often not a one-time pay up. Demands are continuously made by the husband’s family who consider the girl’s family as a never ending source of finance. Inability by the girl’s family often leads to verbal abuse, domestic violence and even deaths. Brides being burned by the in-laws are hardly a novelty in this country. Continuous physical and mental torture instigates women to go into depression and commit suicide. 2016 figures indicate that in India, 20 women die every day due to dowry related issues.

c. Economic burden – getting a girl married is associated with a hefty amount of money by Indian parents due to direct or subtle demands for dowry by the groom’s family. Families often borrow heavily, mortgage properties leading to major decline in economic health.

d. Gender inequality – the idea of paying dowry in order to get a girl married generates an increased sense of inequality among the genders, placing men superior to women. Young girls are kept from schools while their brothers are given access to education. They are regarded incompetent for roles other than housework and are often discouraged from taking up jobs. Their opinions are suppressed, not valued or ignored more often than not. Physical and behavioral restrictions are imposed on girls that are completely natural for boys.

 

2. Long Term Effects of Dowry System – the short term effects lead to the following long-term consequences

a. Gender imbalance – the much abhorred practices like abortion of female fetuses and killing of girl babies have resulted into an unnaturally skewed child sex ratio (CSR) in India. In states like Haryana and Rajasthan where these practices are most prevalent, the CSR stands at 830 girls per 1000 boys. This in turn leads to peculiar practices like polyandry and an increase in violence against women.

b. Loss of self-esteem in women – in a country which has experienced centuries of inferior attitude towards women, it is very hard to maintain a high level of self-regard if you are a woman. Naturally, women themselves are bound in the shackles of an idea that they are incapable of any contributions to the society. Their sense of self-worth hits rock bottom and they are increasingly subjugated to injustice.

c. Status of women –practices like dowry are social evils and a huge deterrent towards improvement of social status of women in India. Inferiority of women has been impressed upon the minds of the nation time and again by the demands of dowry.

 

Solutions to Dowry System

1. Law – several laws have been enacted to prohibit the practice of dowry and the injustice against women stemming from it. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed on 20th May, 1961 with an aim to eradicate the evil practice from the society. The act declares not only the practice of accepting dowry unlawful, but also penalizes giving of the same. It includes property, valuable security like cash and jewelry exchanging hand during the marriage. Making demands of dowry is punishable by a minimum imprisonment of 5 years and a minimum fine of 15,000 rupees. Incidences of cruelty by the husband or his family against the wife have been addressed in the Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 198A in the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 113A added in the Indian Evidence Act further provides the family of the bride to charge the husband’s family of abetting suicide of their daughter within 7 years from the date of marriage.

 

2. Enforcement – it is never enough to just introduce acts and amend sections to fight against a social evil. This requires strict and ruthless enforcement of such laws. That aspect still leaves a lot to be desired. Although such allegations are taken very seriously by the authorities, lack of proper investigative procedures often leads to the accused going free. The government needs to ensure a zero-tolerance policy for such offenders and ensure enforcement of the law through systemic changes.

3. Social Awareness – creating a widespread awareness against the evils of the dowry system is key first step towards eradicating the practice.Campaigns should be designed to reach the deepest strata of the society and aim to spread knowledge about the legal provisions against dowry. There also is the need to promote the need for educating the girl children.

 

4. Education and self-dependence of women – education is not just required to find your vocation in life, it is essential to gain eyes and ears to a world beyond the one you can immediately see. It is important or all of us to emphasize on educating the girls in order to fight widespread social evils like dowry. Knowledge of their rights will enable them to speak up against practice of dowry and ongoing marginalization. They will also be able to strive for self-dependence and not view marriage as their only salvation.

5. Overhaul of mindsets –India as a country requires major overhaul of its existing mindsets in order to push back against the iniquitous custom of dowry. They need to realise the fact that in today’s society women are perfectly capable of doing anything that men can. Women themselves need to come out of the belief that they are inferior to men and they need to depend on men to provide for them.


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