Dowry is not the new concept as it prevails among us for a long period of time and this leads to one of the most asked questions among people i.e. what is dowry? How it started and when it started? So, Dowry or Dahej is one of the deep-rooted social evils existing in India for quite a long time now. The Dowry system in India refers to giving cash, goods, property, etc., to the bridegroom or his family as a condition of marriage.
This is not a recent concept but has started even before British rule however at that time the idea behind the dowry system was to make sure that the bride will be financially stable after the marriage. It was to ensure that she had all the comforts that are needed to lead a happy life.
However, when a rule against owning a property by women was passed by Britishers, the right to own property was taken away by women. This has created a mess as all the property that a female owns goes directly to her husband. She will be left with nothing and due to this males starting harassing women, this has created a feeling of domination among women.
The dowry system started in 1961 in India and gave birth to innumerable problems. Problems related to the dowry system vary according to religion, caste, creed, and locality and the exact causes are difficult to determine.
Causes of Dowry System
However, some possible factors are motivating the common masses to accept the dowry even now. We are listing some of the causes of the dowry system below.
Lack of Education- Lack of awareness or education among the bride and their families regarding the existing laws that ban dowry is one of the major causes of the prevalent dowry system. Most of them are ignored of their rights and laws due to lack of higher education thus accept whatever their grandparents pass on to them.
Patriarchal Society- Patriarchy is another social system in which man holds superior status and is allowed to create an atmosphere of predominance within their homes as well as in society. Since time immemorial men have been granted superior status not only in India but worldwide where women were not allowed even to cast their votes or give their opinion within a family.
This gives the right to men to ask for unnecessary demands such as dowry in return for marriage because there is no way that women deny that. In this way, males satisfy their status as a superior role in society.
Greed- Dowry is exchanged to compensate for the groom's education, career, and wealth. In this way, he doesn't need to earn bread during his lifetime as he will get the money in the form of dowry for the lifetime.
Social Status- In India losing a marriage proposal is considered a matter of utmost disrespect and causes harm to the social status of the bride's family. Thus to protect their social status families accept the dowry demand regardless of their financial status.
Weak implementation of Dowry Laws- Constitution has granted several laws to protect women from such an evil system. Laws such as the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 and the Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005 have been there for quite a long time now. Implementation of these laws is ineffective due to the mass participation of people under the veil of ignorance.
Effects of Dowry System
These widespread causes are enough to cause extensive and irreversible effects. Some of the effects of dowry system are mentioned below-
Dowry Related Abuse- At present India has the highest number of dowry-related deaths in the world with an average of 1 death due to dowry violence per 90 minutes. Dowry-related abuse includes mentally or physically harassing women for the demand of dowry. Torturing her to death has become a common practice in society. Although this abuse has reduced to a great extent but is majorly present in rural India where people are more unaware.
Female Infanticide- Female infanticide is related to the deliberate killing of girl babies by their parents or family members due to the threat of giving dowry at the time of her marriage or also in a threat of killing of their daughter by their husbands if they failed to give dowry.
How to Stop the Dowry System?
The Dowry system has spread its roots to the extent that people are questioning what are the ways to stop this system or how to stop the dowry system. This is high time to stop this evil system before it harms all humanity. The government has taken appropriate measures to stop this evil system however drafting laws is not enough to abolish such a deep-rooted system. Society needs to focus on other things as well which is mentioned below.
Spread Awareness- Spreading awareness among brides and their families is more than enough to stop this evil system as it is important to educate people of their rights so that they can practice them when someone demands dowry. For this, it is important to send your daughters to schools and allow them to take higher education as well so that she knows exactly of her rights.
Abolition of Patriarchy- It is important to abolish the feeling of domination among women which was caused by the patriarchal system. Teach your daughters to raise their voice in every matter and do not force her to respect your decisions if she doesn't want to.
The Dowry system is a sin that India faces even today even after years of modernization and development have taken place. There are many effects of dowry system that women face even today. This has already taken many innocent lives and has caused other destruction as well. Hence it is important to take every necessary step even at the individual level to stop such harassment on women. Spreading awareness among people who are unaware of their rights at the individual level will also help.
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