Dowry system is the durable goods, cash and real or movable property that is given by the bride’s family to groom, his parents and relatives as the condition of the marriage. It is in the nature of the payment in cash or gifts which includes cash, jewelleries, electrical appliances, furniture, crockery, vehicles, etc. It is referred to as dahej in Arabic and Aaunpot in eastern parts of India.
Dowry system can put great financial burden on the bride’s family. It leads to crime against women, emotional abuse and injury to deaths.
According to article 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, penalty for giving or taking dowry doesn’t apply to presents given at the time of wedding when no demand for them has been made.
According to section 498A of IPC, groom and his family is automatically arrested if bride complains of dowry harassment but in 2014, Supreme Court ruled that arrests cannot be made without magistrate’s approval.
Causes of Dowry
These include inheritance systems and bride’s economic status. In 1956, India gave equal legal status to daughters and sons under Hindu Succession Act. Still, dowry continued as a process where parental property is given to daughter at the time of her marriage. Dowry gave women economic and financial security in their marriage. Dowry has become a great financial burden on some families and has increased over time.
Structure and kinship of marriage contributes to dowry in India. Marriage follows a patrilocal system. This encourages dowry due to exclusion of bride’s family after marriage. Women’s education, income and health are some common factors responsible in paying the role of dowry and for how much control a woman can have after marriage.
Islam classifies dowry in two ways:
Some essential articles for the outfit of the bride.
Valuable goods, clothes, jewelry, amount of money for the groom’s family, etc.
Types of Dowry Crimes
Cruelty: It can be in the form of verbal attacks, beating or harassment to force the woman or her family for dowry. In many cases, it leads to force the woman to commit suicide.
Abetment to suicide: It includes all acts and attempts to advice, encourage or assist in committing suicide. It causes emotional trauma, depression and suicide.
Laws against Dowry
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
The legislation provides penalty if any person gives or takes dowry. Punishment could be imprisonment for minimum 5 years and fine of more than 15000 rupees. The burden of proving that an offence was not committed lies on the person charged and not on the victim or her family.
Criminal Statutes- Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act
Punishment was the imprisonment for minimum 7 years and maximum for life. If the death of a woman is caused by burns or injury within 7 years of marriage, and if there’s an evidence that she was subjected to cruelty by her husband or his family, then the husband or the relatives shall be deemed to cause her death.
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