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DOWRY SYSTEM IN INDIA Tahmina Naaz, 11:55 PM IST

“Babul pyare sajan Sakha re, Suno meri maiyya, Bojh nahi main kisi ke sar ka, Naa majdhar mein naiyaa, Patwar banoongi, leharon se ladungi, Arey mujhe kya bechega rupaiya, Ho arey mujhe kya bechega rupaiya” 

 Rupaiya Song Sung in Satyamev jayate on the episode of dowry issues

Well our country India is known for customs and practices. In the times of equality, the dowry system is still most practiced and is prevalent in many parts of the country despite the education and awareness. There is a saying that “girl’s family has to save every single penny since birth for her marriage”. In ancient time the dowry was given for the financial stability of the women and for her independence but after the British rule women’s were not having any rights for owning the property so on the property there was rights of husband and from there dowry came.

Dowry is a social evil. Dowry is the transfer of parental property, gifts or money to the husband or the family to whom the girl is marrying. The system of dowry is practiced in every religion but the dower in Muslim Personal Law is not dowry. Dowry created a lot of problem for girl’s family because they would not get groom if they wouldn’t pay handsome amount of dowry for their daughter. But in many families seeking dowry doesn’t end for one time like only during marriage but it’s like always seeking for money or other kind of gifts and if demand doesn’t get fulfilled there the problem with the girl starts. Many groom’s families say that “we have educated our boy, made him capable and our whole money went in education so we need like repayment of that because your girl is not equally capable of our boy.” We can’t say that most low or middle class seek for dowry but so called educated high class family even do like beggars for dowry. The price of dowry is fixed differently for different occupation people as the level of occupation rises dowry’s amount rises. 

In 2018, there were 7.1 thousand reported cases of dowry. Every day at least 20 women die because of dowry related violence. Many dowry cases don’t even get reported. In many cases evidence is washed off and the victim is even buried or burned in a mysterious condition. The system of dowry did too much injustice to the women like because of it female foeticide increased, domestic violence, physical abuse, dowry deaths and even the girls’ family underwent mental torture for paying dowry or unable to pay dowry. The show Satyamev Jayate’s one episode reflected on the issue of dowry system there were girls on the show who were cheated by fraudently taking dowry money from them and running away to foreign countries and not returning. Harassing girls physically by denying food, water and locking them in house. Many families went in debt, many girl’s father committed suicide and even girls committed suicide. In Maharashtra most farmer went in debt because of dowry apart from other reasons and committed suicide. There are cases where Muslim girls were given instant triple Talaq for not fulfilling demands of dowry.

 Like every coin has two sides this system is also two sided because the mistake does not lie on the side of person who is taking dowry but it also lies on the girl’s family side. Education and independence of the girls is the powerful weapon to eradicate dowry. The parents must educate their daughter, encourage them to be independent, not depending on either parents or husband, treat them equally with their sons and teach them not to entertain the practice of giving or taking dowry. The parents must say no to proposals of marriage who demand for dowry. The dowry becomes also encouraged because of reasons like parents don’t laying enough emphasis on educating their daughters as they feel husbands will support them later. 

The Dowry Prohibition Act,1961 was made to prohibit the giving or taking of dowry. The Act extends to whole of India except Jammu & Kashmir. According to this Act, dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given directly or indirectly by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage or by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person. The penalty for giving or taking dowry, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more. The penalty of demanding dowry from bride’s relatives or guardians shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to two years and fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees. The agreement for giving or taking dowry is to be void.

Where any dowry is received by any person other than the woman in connection with whose marriage it is given, that person shall have to transfer to the woman- if the dowry was received before marriage, it should be returned after three months after the date of marriage, if the dowry was received at the time of or after the marriage, it should be returned  after three month of the date of receipt and if the dowry was received when the woman was a minor, it should be returned after three months of attainment of age 18 years. If any person fails to transfer any property, then he shall be punishable with imprisonment of term which shall not be less than 6 months but which may extend to two years or with fine not less than five thousand rupees but may extend to ten thousand rupees.

Every offence under this Act is non-bailable and non-compoundable. The offences are cognizable for certain purposes and to be bailable and non-compoundable for the purpose of investigation of such offences and for the purposes of matter other than the arrest of a person without a warrant or without an order of a magistrate. The state government may appoint as many Dowry Prohibition Officers as it thinks fit and specify the areas in respect of which they shall exercise their jurisdiction and powers under this Act. The function of Dowry Prohibition Officer is to see the provision of this Act is compiled or not, to prevent as far as possible the taking or abetting the taking of or demanding of dowry and to collect such evidence as may be necessary for the prosecution of persons committing offences under this Act.

Dowry is a stigma in society. But there are families in today’s world who don’t seek for dowry and even some people split the expenses of the marriage in between the families. The dowry tradition has decreased a little because nowadays parents are educating their daughters and making them career oriented. Some families ask for dowry in order to fulfil the boy’s dreams or fulfil their own dreams. Well no intention to hurt anyone but I just want to tell to the dowry seeker family or to the boy who is seeking dowry “Don’t expect things from others, expect things from yourself and if you can’t stand in your own expectations please don’t expect it from others. Please stop keeping price tags for marrying someone.”                                                                           

“Educate girls make them powerful and liberate the dowry system!!”

“Any young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonours womanhood.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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