What is dowry?
This is a system which allows the parental property to be inherited by the husband of the bride. Is a gift from the bride’s family to the groom’s family. This has been a concept which was followed by early families but things turned out differently and this tradition became a story which no one wants to listen. If it was just a gift, you would not have heard any story. It grew to be a demand and caused very harmful effects to the society. The brides were literally burnt alive if sufficient dowry was not provided to the groom’s family.
How did the dowry developed? Is it a bad thing and how it did lead to murders and brides burnt alive or is it a good thing? The answer is — it started as a gift of bride’s parents to the bride and it was treated as a security to the daughter and this money was hers. It is a pre-existing thing and if husband gets separated from the bride she would keep the children, she would keep the dowry, she would keep the portion of the estate and she would keep the husband’s partial income to raise the children and when she died the dowry was given back to the bride’s family. Altogether, the money or the items of the dowry were completely hers. But this turned bad about 800 years ago. Husband and wife become together and the husband started gifting the property to himself and wife started testifying to the husband if he still inherits the property and did not gift it to anyone else. However, the legal merger was not equal and the male dominated the rights of the female. The wedding gift became husband’s gift and when the husband got separated, he kept all the dowry with him and did not include any part of that property to wife’s possession. The increase in greed gave birth to killings of the wife and no one was even questioned against it.
The British empire started their stay in various parts of the world and wherever they colonized the practice started in that part of the country. Later, the British people realized that it was not a good thing to carry forward, so they abolished the dowry system within themselves but the changes did not appear where they colonized. Now depending on who are you, what are your values, this spread everywhere including India as the British empire colonized in India too. The women with the higher dowry were only the brides remained and this started putting the pressure on the families which could not provide much dowry to the groom’s family. Beautiful families did not need much dowry and those families where the girl was ugly were pressurized to give much dowry. Due to this fact, some parents chose not to have a baby girl and killed the baby girl just after giving birth, people also started getting to know the infants sex before birth and did not allow the girl to even take birth. Some parents who got their girls married to the families without dowry got their girls killed in kitchen fire as this was the good example to make people believe that the kitchen caught fire while she was working and then the groom got married again and this practice continued again and again.
The dowry taken by the families can be anything like cash, valuable metals or materials such as coolers, refrigerators or cars which involves transfer of wealth from bride’s family to groom’s family. It is a practice which started in ancient India. We have got proofs from ancient scholars that the dowry system was not present in the 11th century. But something happened between 11th century and 16th century that the dowry system came into existence. It all started by the British colonial rule when they started private ownership of land in India which created landlords and zamindars. People started owning the land which was not claimed by anyone and it became hereditary. The children of these landlords inherited these lands since birth and this prohibited the women from inheriting the property. When the greed and demands increased, dowry became demand and what was voluntary became obligation. The satisfaction of groom’s family wishes when getting married were unable to be completed which resulted in female feticide to become very much high. To put it in perspective, the population of women started getting low and it was one day that the number of population of women became less than the men as the entire population of France. The idea of marriage became a business and the dowry created an institution of greed. In some cases, it helped the bride in getting the direct inheritance of the family property of the girl to her but when placed a demand it became evil. The right to inherit the parental property to the married daughter became difficult and the girl did not have any right in the ancestral home. It is practiced among all religions when some are relaxed and some take it seriously. In 1961, a law was passed which stated that the dowry system is abolished in the society but this is the practice which prevailed even after setting the law in action. The girls were not able to get any part of the ancestral property and the families of the groom became violent. As recently as 2005, the law was created which state that the daughters were given equal property as sons. Now, the girls can take the half property which was earlier supposed to be hers which is resulting in building a better society.
The main reason of dowry was to help settle to newly married. It was done to ensure that daughter will be happy after marriage. It all started a noble cause earlier but slowly, it became a compulsion and now it is a curse to the society where education and goodness of the daughter is not counted. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The man who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonors womanhood.” Dowry system is the cause of pain for bride and her family. We can end this by opposing the dowry system. This is the practice which happens today also which has become a politics and dowry has been killing many women in the family.
Conclusion: The lack of education is also one of the cause that dowry still exists. The laws have been enforced in the country against dowry but people should be made aware about these laws. If the educated part of the society start the initiative of not accepting the dowry whatever the case may be, then we can abolish this tradition completely resulting in the better society where girls are treated equally as boys and the poor families which kill the girls because of the fear of dowry could be stopped.
Please leave your suggestions in the response section if you have any new actions on killing dowry from the society.