Dowry System In India

What Is The Dowry System In India?

A bride's dowry is the gift she gives to her husband's family. Region, religion, caste and subcaste, groom's education, bride's skin tone, and the negotiating abilities of both families all play a role in determining the sum.

Dowry has been prohibited in India since 1961, although it is still widely practised there. The exact percentage is unknown, but in my own experience, dowries form part of the ceremony at around half of the weddings I've attended or been invited to.

In spite of this, it is rarely reported as a criminal act. In a country where over 10 million weddings take place annually, less than 10,000 dowry cases were reported in 2015, per data from India's National Crime Records Bureau. Media attention is given to cases of dowry only when the groom's demands are excessive relative to the resources of the bride's family or when the bride suffers physical abuse or death.

Domestic violence laws are often used to report dowry-related abuse. Approximately 7,646 deaths were attributed to dowry-related conflicts in 2015, while over 113,000 women claimed maltreatment by their spouses or in-laws. That works out to roughly 21 women murdered per day by their husbands or in-laws because their families could not afford the dowry.

When it comes to marriage in India, there are many long-held customs and cultural beliefs to adhere to. It is through oral tradition that customs are preserved and, in some circumstances, reinterpreted to fit modern sensibilities. However, the dowry system is one tradition that refuses to die.

It originated in mediaeval India when families gave dowries to their daughters so that they may continue to support themselves financially even after marriage. During the colonial era, the British made the practise of dowry mandatory, and it became the only acceptable method to be married. Bride prices are on the rise across all socioeconomic levels in modern India. However, the increased bride price has led to an upsurge in violence against women.

Husbands and in-laws often resort to violence against the bride and her family in order to increase the amount of the dowry they receive. A large sum of money may be paid as a dowry at the time of the wedding, but after the wedding, husbands and in-laws often become more greedy.

As a result, the bride is often subjected to abuse of some kind, whether physical, psychological, or sexual. The abuse can take several forms, such as slicing her genitalia or breasts with razors or drowning her in kerosene to kill her. Women can be pushed to the point of suicide.

However, despite the fact that dowry demands have been illegal in India since 1961, the legislation has proven difficult to implement. In 1986, the legislation was changed so that any death or violence within the first seven years of a marriage would be investigated as a possible dowry-related crime. Unfortunately, most incidents of dowry-related violence are never reported.

To Worship Lakshmi, The Goddess Of Wealth, Or A Cash Cow.

The new bride, like the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, is seen as the source of material wealth for the household. Even though it is against the law in India to demand dowry, the selfish have found a means to do it.

Women's rights activist Satya from Bengaluru's Vimochana claims that "dowry has assumed a different form altogether," with well-off couples now accepting it in a more nuanced way, such as by asking the bride's family to cover expenses like housing and education.

Pooja Vikas Shirgire, a class 12 student from a tiny hamlet in the Indian state of Maharashtra (West), committed herself on October 4, 2017. When he went home from work, he found out to his horror that his daughter had been killed. Pooja explained in her note how the societal expectations imposed on her father left her feeling helpless. To spare his father the financial burden of a dowry, she was forced to take such drastic measures.

Pooja's dad worked the land, and things aren't much better in India's rural areas, where 60% of the population lives. Women are often intimidated by their husbands and in-laws with marriage if the dowry is not paid. If the young woman gets a divorce in a country where religion is highly valued and divorce is regarded a "shame," she will be forced to live on her own and may be shunned by her own family.

The prevalent practices of the dowry system are to blame for this incident, as well as many more like it across the country. Other forms of violence against women include domestic abuse and psychological harassment, and some have even been complicit in murders. There were 24,771 dowry-related deaths reported in India between 2012 and 2014, per statistics compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB). A total of 8,455 women lost their lives to it in 2014.

How Do You Dance At An Indian Wedding

Effects of Dowry on Indian Women 

Disabled people are disproportionately affected by dowries

Because the groom's family often demands more cash as a dowry, the dowry system is unfavorable for disabled or unwell women.

A section in a textbook that stated "ugly" and "handicapped" women would be charged higher dowry sums angered people in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

The fact that dowries have become institutionalized and continue to have devastating effects on many people does not make it impossible for them to be eliminated.

There are growing social and economic justice initiatives in India that are working to end the practice of paying a dowry.

Among three villages with a predominantly Muslim population, the anti-dowry campaign has reportedly decreased the practice from 95% to 5% of marriages.

Even yet, more research is needed. The law explicitly forbids dowries, but it is rarely enforced in practice.

Global Citizen's Level the Law Campaign works to ensure that all laws are equally enforced around the world.

Theoretical theories for the pervasiveness of dowry in India include the country's residence and inheritance system, women's involvement in production and kinship networks, a comparatively large pool of potential husbands, and social stratification. Using an empirical analysis of dowries, this essay provides institutional and economic rationale for the pervasiveness of the dowry system in India.

Using information about marriages and the families of the bride and groom, the paper demonstrates that dowry payments mitigate the measurable socioeconomic gap between the bride's and groom's.

That's why dowry makes sense as the "price" in a marriage market for a "good match." The findings also demonstrate that the prevalence and size of dowries do not change depending on variables such as the inheritance system in existence, the bride's location of abode after marriage, or the ratio of men to women who are of marriageable age.

Instances of Abuse Against Women

Ladies who cannot afford a dowry or who will not be able to afford one in the future are often subjected to threats and abuse. The husband or in-laws may subject the wife to an acid bath or a fire.

A New Delhi-based advocate for women's rights named Savra Subratikaan told the Pulitzer Center that it is not uncommon for husbands to "violently beat, emotionally torture, withhold money, push them out of the house, keep them away from their children, keep mistresses openly, or even burn the wife alive."

Every four hours, someone takes their own life.

There are two main factors, in Kumari's opinion, that contribute to the low rate at which perpetrators are brought to justice. The first problem is that police detectives don't do a good enough job, which is due to a lack of funding and proper training for the police force.

Police corruption is another problem, as Kumari told DW. "Many police personnel accept money from relatives of the guilty and then refuse to push cases ahead," she said.

"Trials cost time and money and may not always be affordable, especially for victims from the middle and lower classes," says Savita Pande, a professor of South Asian studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

She continued, stating that the public's distaste for the lengthy judicial processes makes it less unlikely that the parties will reconcile, which is why many cases are settled out of court. The expert did add, however, that the disagreements had reached such a critical point that "on average, one Indian lady commits suicide every four hours over a dowry dispute," despite the existence of laws for the empowerment of women.

Girls Are Not Able To Attend School Due To Dowries

It's counterintuitive for families to dissuade their daughters from getting a degree in order to save money on dowries, as dowry amounts tend to increase with each year of schooling.

To many families, investing in a girl's education is a waste of money because she will never advance in her career. Keeping girls at home and making them do chores is a common part of preparing them for a life as a housewife.

Inheritance Money Increases The Likelihood Of Marriage For Minors

It is common practice to marry off young girls as newborns to alleviate the economic burden of a large dowry.

It is estimated that more over 700 million women around the world are currently surviving as a direct result of having been married off as minors. Girls Not Brides, an organization fighting underage marriage, estimates the number will rise to 1.2 billion by 2050.

India has the world's highest rate of child marriage, and the dowry system is a contributing factor. Because the dowry for a kid is often significantly smaller, families might save money by arranging marriages for their daughters at earlier ages.

Maintaining Gender Inequality Through Dowery

By seeing women as property to be bought and sold, the dowry system devalues them. As if that weren't bad enough, the bride's family has to pay the groom's family to cover the expenses associated with caring for the bride, thus the system treats them as a liability rather than a commodity to be passed on.

Therefore, the practice of paying a dowry perpetuates a social norm in which women are seen as property.

Those Who Rely On Dowry Payments Become Trapped In Debt

For the purpose of covering dowries, many low-income families resort to taking out loans at extortionate interest rates, selling off their land, or pledging to pay the money back in installments, all of which can contribute to a downward cycle of debt.

When it comes to providing dowries for their daughters, families from Haji Mumtaz Ali's socioeconomic background "often go begging," as the leader of an anti-dowry campaign puts it. When others' families wanted to pay for a dowry, they had to sell farms. In addition, some families struggle under the weight of debilitating debt because their parents took out loans from sketchy lenders with high interest rates.

To add insult to injury, dowries contribute to an already existing social hierarchy. Because of the high expectations placed on dowries by upper-class families, marriage proposals from lower-income families can be met with resistance from affluent suitors.

Is there a legal basis for dowry?

In 1961, only 11 years after the establishment of the Indian Constitution, the Indian Parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making it unlawful to ask for or gift dowry. The law was substantially strengthened by amendments made in 1984 and 1986. Due to these amendments, particularly those made in 1986, section 304 (b) of the Indian Penal Code now makes it illegal to murder someone for a dowry.

In 1983, a new section 498 (A) of the criminal code was established, significantly increasing the anti-dowry rules and compelling the authorities to make an arrest against the in-laws of a woman who has complained of harassment or cruelty. It was a monumental achievement toward achieving gender parity in that country.

"In India, we have several laws prohibiting dowry, but lack of awareness among individuals causes difficulties in applying them," says Sayanti Sengupta.

There has also been a constant uproar regarding the number of people who use the dowry prohibition fraudulently. In light of this, the Supreme Court declared on July 27, 2017, that an accused person may not be promptly arrested under section 498A. The police will wait for the Family Welfare Committee to meet and discuss the case before filing a First Information Report (FIR). It is recommended that similar committees be set up in every state.

Satya, when asked about his time spent in the burns unit at Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru, says, "The latest change, implemented pursuant to 498A, is unnecessary. How come we keep hearing about women being pressured to commit suicide if they aren't abusing the system as much as some claim? ".

The new legislation has made life considerably more challenging for the many women who are still susceptible to the terrible effects of dowry. Aside from awareness programs, little much is done to help women who find themselves in such dangerous situations. It's difficult to prove dowry abuse in court, so the police typically don't help either. They are severely underserved in terms of emotional support. It's unfortunate that people learn about a crime after the fact.

Indian Wedding Makeup

Conclusion 

Dowry has been prohibited in India since 1961, although it is still widely practised. In a country where over 10 million weddings take place annually, less than 10,000 dowry cases were reported in 2015. Media attention is given to cases of dowry only when the groom's demands are excessive relative to the bride's family or when the bride suffers physical abuse or death. Dowry demands have been illegal in India since 1961, but legislation has proven difficult to implement. In 1986, the legislation was changed so that any death or violence within the first seven years of a marriage would be investigated as a possible dowry-related crime.

Well-off couples now accept it in a more nuanced way, such as by asking the bride's family to cover expenses like housing and education. Dowry-related deaths in India are on the rise, with a total of 8,455 women losing their lives to it in 2014, according to National Crime Record Bureau statistics. Women are often intimidated by their husbands and in-laws with marriage if the dowry is not paid. Other forms of violence against women include domestic abuse and psychological harassment, and some have even been complicit in murders. Dowries have become institutionalized and continue to have devastating effects on many people.

Because the groom's family often demands more cash as a dowry, the dowry system is unfavorable for disabled or unwell women. There are growing social and economic justice initiatives in India that are working to end the practice. Every four hours, an Indian lady commits suicide over a dowry dispute, despite the existence of laws for the empowerment of women. A lack of funding and training is one of the main factors contributing to the low rate at which perpetrators are brought to justice. The public's distaste for lengthy judicial processes makes it less unlikely that the parties will reconcile, which is why many cases are settled out of court.

It is estimated that more over 700 million women around the world are surviving as a direct result of having been married off as minors. Girls Not Brides, an organization fighting underage marriage, estimates the number will rise to 1.2 billion by 2050. India has the world's highest rate of child marriage, and the dowry system is a contributing factor. The practice of paying a dowry perpetuates a social norm in which women are seen as property. Those who rely on dowery payments become trapped in debt. Because of the high expectations placed on dowries by upper-class families, marriage proposals from lower-income families can be met with resistance from affluent suitors.

Content Summary: 

  • A bride's dowry is the gift she gives to her husband's family.
  • Dowry has been prohibited in India since 1961, although it is still widely practised there.
  • The exact percentage is unknown, but in my own experience, dowries form part of the ceremony at around half of the weddings I've attended or been invited to.
  • In spite of this, it is rarely reported as a criminal act.
  • In a country where over 10 million weddings take place annually, less than 10,000 dowry cases were reported in 2015, per data from India's National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Media attention is given to cases of dowry only when the groom's demands are excessive relative to the resources of the bride's family or when the bride suffers physical abuse or death.
  • Approximately 7,646 deaths were attributed to dowry-related conflicts in 2015, while over 113,000 women claimed maltreatment by their spouses or in-laws.
  • That works out to roughly 21 women murdered per day by their husbands or in-laws because their families could not afford the dowry.
  • When it comes to marriage in India, there are many long-held customs and cultural beliefs to adhere to.
  • However, the dowry system is one tradition that refuses to die.
  • Bride prices are on the rise across all socioeconomic levels in modern India.
  • However, the increased bride price has led to an upsurge in violence against women.
  • Husbands and in-laws often resort to violence against the bride and her family in order to increase the amount of the dowry they receive.
  • The abuse can take several forms, such as slicing her genitalia or breasts with razors or drowning her in kerosene to kill her.
  • Women can be pushed to the point of suicide.
  • However, despite the fact that dowry demands have been illegal in India since 1961, the legislation has proven difficult to implement.
  • In 1986, the legislation was changed so that any death or violence within the first seven years of a marriage would be investigated as a possible dowry-related crime.
  • Unfortunately, most incidents of dowry-related violence are never reported.
  • To worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, or a cash cow.
  • The new bride, like the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, is seen as the source of material wealth for the household.
  • Even though it is against the law in India to demand dowry, the selfish have found a means to do it.
  • Women's rights activist Satya from Bengaluru's Vimochana claims that "dowry has assumed a different form altogether," with well-off couples now accepting it in a more nuanced way, such as by asking the bride's family to cover expenses like housing and education.
  • Pooja Vikas Shirgire, a class 12 student from a tiny hamlet in the Indian state of Maharashtra (West), committed herself on October 4, 2017.
  • When he went home from work, he found out to his horror that his daughter had been killed.
  • Pooja explained in her note how the societal expectations imposed on her father left her feeling helpless.
  • To spare his father the financial burden of a dowry, she was forced to take such drastic measures.
  • Pooja's dad worked the land, and things aren't much better in India's rural areas, where 60% of the population lives.
  • Women are often intimidated by their husbands and in-laws with marriage if the dowry is not paid.
  • If the young woman gets a divorce in a country where religion is highly valued and divorce is regarded a "shame," she will be forced to live on her own and may be shunned by her own family.
  • The prevalent practices of the dowry system are to blame for this incident, as well as many more like it across the country.
  • Other forms of violence against women include domestic abuse and psychological harassment, and some have even been complicit in murders.
  • There were 24,771 dowry-related deaths reported in India between 2012 and 2014, per statistics compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).
  • A total of 8,455 women lost their lives to it in 2014.
  • Disabled people are disproportionately affected by dowries
  • Because the groom's family often demands more cash as a dowry, the dowry system is unfavourable for disabled or unwell women.
  • A section in a textbook that stated "ugly" and "handicapped" women would be charged higher dowry sums angered people in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
  • The fact that dowries have become institutionalised and continue to have devastating effects on many people does not make it impossible for them to be eliminated.
  • There are growing social and economic justice initiatives in India that are working to end the practice of paying a dowry.
  • Among three villages with a predominantly Muslim population, the anti-dowry campaign has reportedly decreased the practice from 95% to 5% of marriages.
  • The law explicitly forbids dowries, but it is rarely enforced in practice.
  • Global Citizen's Level the Law Campaign works to ensure that all laws are equally enforced around the world.
  • Theoretical theories for the pervasiveness of dowry in India include the country's residence and inheritance system, women's involvement in production and kinship networks, a comparatively large pool of potential husbands, and social stratification.
  • Using an empirical analysis of dowries, this essay provides institutional and economic rationale for the pervasiveness of the dowry system in India.
  • Using information about marriages and the families of the bride and groom, the paper demonstrates that dowry payments mitigate the measurable socioeconomic gap between the bride's and groom's.
  • That's why dowry makes sense as the "price" in a marriage market for a "good match."
  • The findings also demonstrate that the prevalence and size of dowries do not change depending on variables such as the inheritance system in existence, the bride's location of abode after marriage, or the ratio of men to women who are of marriageable age.
  • Ladies who cannot afford a dowry or who will not be able to afford one in the future are often subjected to threats and abuse.
  • The husband or in-laws may subject the wife to an acid bath or a fire.
  • A New Delhi-based advocate for women's rights named Savra Subratikaan told the Pulitzer Center that it is not uncommon for husbands to "violently beat, emotionally torture, withhold money, push them out of the house, keep them away from their children, keep mistresses openly, or even burn the wife alive."
  • Every four hours, someone takes their own life.
  • There are two main factors, in Kumari's opinion, that contribute to the low rate at which perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • The first problem is that police detectives don't do a good enough job, which is due to a lack of funding and proper training for the police force.
  • Police corruption is another problem, as Kumari told DW. "
  • Many police personnel accept money from relatives of the guilty and then refuse to push cases ahead," she said. "
  • Trials cost time and money and may not always be affordable, especially for victims from the middle and lower classes," says Savita Pande, a professor of South Asian studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
  • The expert did add, however, that the disagreements had reached such a critical point that "on average, one Indian lady commits suicide every four hours over a dowry dispute," despite the existence of laws for the empowerment of women.
  • Girls are not able to attend school due to dowries.
  • It's counterintuitive for families to dissuade their daughters from getting a degree in order to save money on dowries, as dowry amounts tend to increase with each year of schooling.
  • To many families, investing in a girl's education is a waste of money because she will never advance in her career.
  • Keeping girls at home and making them do chores is a common part of preparing them for a life as a housewife.
  • It is common practice to marry off young girls as newborns to alleviate the economic burden of a large dowry.
  • It is estimated that more over 700 million women around the world are currently surviving as a direct result of having been married off as minors.
  • Girls Not Brides, an organization fighting underage marriage, estimates the number will rise to 1.2 billion by 2050.
  • India has the world's highest rate of child marriage, and the dowry system is a contributing factor.
  • Because the dowry for a kid is often significantly smaller, families might save money by arranging marriages for their daughters at earlier ages.
  • Is there a legal basis for dowry?In 1961, only 11 years after the establishment of the Indian Constitution, the Indian Parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making it unlawful to ask for or gift dowry.
  • Due to these amendments, particularly those made in 1986, section 304 (b) of the Indian Penal Code now makes it illegal to murder someone for a dowry.
  • In 1983, a new section 498 (A) of the criminal code was established, significantly increasing the anti-dowry rules and compelling the authorities to make an arrest against the in-laws of a woman who has complained of harassment or cruelty.
  • There has also been a constant uproar regarding the number of people who use the dowry prohibition fraudulently.
  • In light of this, the Supreme Court declared on July 27, 2017, that an accused person may not be promptly arrested under section 498A. The police will wait for the Family Welfare Committee to meet and discuss the case before filing a First Information Report (FIR).
  • Satya, when asked about his time spent in the burns unit at Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru, says, "The latest change, implemented pursuant to 498A, is unnecessary.
  • How come we keep hearing about women being pressured to commit suicide if they aren't abusing the system as much as some claim? ".
  • The new legislation has made life considerably more challenging for the many women who are still susceptible to the terrible effects of dowry.
  • Aside from awareness programs, little much is done to help women who find themselves in such dangerous situations.
  • It's difficult to prove dowry abuse in court, so the police typically don't help either.
  • By seeing women as property to be bought and sold, the dowry system devalues them.
  • As if that weren't bad enough, the bride's family has to pay the groom's family to cover the expenses associated with caring for the bride, thus the system treats them as a liability rather than a commodity to be passed on.
  • Therefore, the practice of paying a dowry perpetuates a social norm in which women are seen as property.
  • Those who rely on dowery payments become trapped in debt.
  • For the purpose of covering dowries, many low-income families resort to taking out loans at extortionate interest rates, selling off their land, or pledging to pay the money back in installments, all of which can contribute to a downward cycle of debt.
  • To add insult to injury, dowries contribute to an already existing social hierarchy.
  • Because of the high expectations placed on dowries by upper-class families, marriage proposals from lower-income families can be met with resistance from affluent suitors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dowry System

Dowry is a payment made in cash or kind to a bride's in-laws at the time of her marriage. The amount depends on many factors, including region, religion, caste and subcaste, groom's education, bride's skin tone, and the negotiation skills of both the families involved.

The Dowry system is a practice of giving money or property or special gifts at the marriage of a daughter by the father to the bridegroom or bridegroom's family. Generally, dowry includes a cash payment, jewels etc. Dowry is known as 'Daijo' in Nepali and 'Dahej' in Hindi, Maithali, and Vojpuri.

Dowry is illegal in India under the anti-dowry law. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, any act to take or give dowry is punishable in India. The punishment for violating the anti-dowry law is imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of Rs. 15,000 or the value of dowry given, whichever is more.

One of the basic functions of a dowry has been to serve as a form of protection for the wife against the very real possibility of ill-treatment by her husband and his family.

A Hindu bride's family typically gives the groom a dowry. In Muslim cultures, however, it is the groom that bequeaths a gift or Mahr to his bride. The bride price is also commonly practised by many major Black African cultural groups, regardless of socioeconomic standing.

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