“Any young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonours womanhood.” -Mahatma Gandhi
The position of women is one of the major factors that determine the progress and development of any nation. It is not possible for any civilised society to sustain its development if women are not treated with dignity. However, women have become victims of innumerable social evils such as sati, child marriage, female infanticide, humiliated widowhood etc. The problem which Indian society still suffers is cruelty against women based on Dowry. Dowry refers to the property and gifts that a bride carries with her to her new home or to her in-laws at the time of marriage. Such payments may either be voluntarily made by the bride’s parents or are demanded by the bridegroom or his family. The people most affected by the dowry are poor, backward and the middle-class families whose economic and financial resources are limited.
Today, the government has come up with many laws i.e. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 not only to eradicate the dowry system, but also to uplift the status of women by bringing in many schemes. However, due to the social nature of this problem, the law has not desired results in our society. To solve this problem, it may be helpful to appeal to people’s social and moral awareness, provide education and financial independence to women, and effectively enforce the law against the dowry system.
How was dowry system introduced in India?
The Dowry existed in India before British rule. But that was not the case today. Prior to the colonial era, dowry was an institution managed by women, allowing women to establish themselves, maintain independence and provide assistance in emergencies.
In this ancient dowry system, the bride’s parents / relatives gave her wealth in the form of precious gifts, land, and so on. These valuables and wealth were given to the bride, not to the groom or her family. In other words, the dowry remained with the wife, not the husband or his family. This allowed women to achieve the necessary financial independence and even manage their income from farmland and other sources. Under the original dowry system that was popular in India, women received wealth from their parents during marriage, which served as a means of financial independence for the bride after marriage.
When did the wrong turn take place?
It all started with British rule that prohibited women from owning anything. After the British prohibited the woman from giving property rights, it meant that all the wealth she received from her parents belonged to her husband instead. And the moment this system was created, the husband’s possession of his wife’s wealth turned the traditional dowry system into a threat, creating a system of greed to oppress, bully, and oppress women. The family began to see the next bride as a source of wealth. Marriage reported that it is becoming an easier business to generate wealth. Male children became an additional source of income, and female children became a financial burden on the family. Indian women were not entitled to inherit property from her parents until 1956, after the UK banned women from owning or inheriting property. It was not until 1956 that the Hindu personal law was amended to give women the right to inherit the property of their ancestors. But again, these rights were not equal to those of men. The son had his own share of inheritance, but the share of her daughter depended on the share received from her father. Only in 2005, the law changed again to make women equal to men in terms of ancestral inheritance.
Impact of Dowry system on women?
- Gender Discrimination: Due to the dowry system, it has been seen that women are seen as liability. This reduces the status and position of women in society and making the society as male dominated. These types of things had made gender discrimination in India.
- Increasing crimes against women: The dowry system has increased so many crimes against women. Women were physically and mentally tortured and sometimes when their needs were not full-filled they killed the woman. There are so many cases that are observed under the dowry system.
- Many women end up being unmarried: An uncountable number of girls in the country, despite being educated and professionally competent, remain endlessly unmarried because their parents cannot fulfil the demand of pre-marriage dowry.
- Impact on women’s careers: The larger context of dowry practice is the low presence of women in the workforce and the consequent lack of financial independence. The poorer of society who make some money to send their daughters to work and help to save for dowry. The normal middle and upper classes send their daughters to school, but do not emphasize career options.
How to end up the whole scenario of dowry system?
The Indian constitution wanted to give women of India, a better opportunity through the law. To improve the status of women in our preamble is ensure that justice, equality and liberty are achieved. The phenomenon of dowry has spread not only to every part of the nation but also to all sects, caste and communities. The people need more money to develop their economic standard for changes in personal lifestyle and social status. Every-day in India, women are murdered by their husband or in laws just because woman are not being able to bring sufficient amount of dowry to them. In the name of Dowry, thousands of women are murdered, disfigured or burn alive.
To eradicate the social evils from society, following suggestions are taken into consideration:
- Parents should make determination to make their girl child high educated by employing the money for this not for dowry.
- People must have overcome traditional religious taboos, social practices, etc. that are of no values in this new era.
- People need a new way of thinking, changing philosophy about girls. A new kind of attitude is required women’s progress. All are equal i.e. There should be no discrimination between men and women in society.
- Education is a fundamental element in improving the condition of all women in society. Therefore, Government’s primary duty is to issue guidelines for reasonable accommodation to educate all women in society.
- Criminals victimizing women deserve convincing punishment and prosecution for violating not only the law but also social norms.
- Law is a basic tool for eradicating social evils such as dowry and death from dowry. The legislature needs to create a law that would further benefit women so that she can speak and properly claim her rights.
- To make women more confident and independent, the government has taken steps to create jobs that matches women’s qualifications, free them from the responsibilities of the family and make them independent of other male families.
Punishment for Dowry
Dowry is a punishable offence. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 there are several sections as:
- Section 3(1) of DPA “If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years, and with the fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry.”
- Section 3 does not contravene articles 14, 19, 21, and 22 of the Constitution and therefore this section is not ultra vires of the said articles. The offence is founded in the relationship of the property demanded as abettor with the nature of demand. It should not bear a mere connection with marriage. Abetment is a preparatory act and connotes active complicity on the part of the abettor at a point of time prior to the actual commission of the offence.
- According to section 4 (1) of DPA “If any person demands directly or indirectly, from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride or bridegroom as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.”
- The mere demand for dowry before marriage is considered an offence. Even before the commencement of the marriage, demanding dowry in itself is punishable and so is its continuous demand after the marriage. Creating a list of ornaments and other household articles amount to the demand of dowry and the accused will be held liable under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
It is very difficult to eradicate this type of social evil like dowry, which is totally in the blood and vein of the society. But through law, awareness and education can help in the decreasing the number of crime rates. To bring change in the society the joint effort of the society must be required. Though there is remarkable effect of this movement of eradication of dowry system still the people not given it up totally. There are several legislations have been made to totally eradicate the system but there are many causes for which the system is still continuing. The main problem is the parties of the marriage they are deal secretly. Complete eradication of the evil system is possible only if the minds of people changes. It is the high time for the girls to understand the importance their status in society, to use their powers and abilities to change the world, to bring new change in everything. When you’ve the power to speak up for yourself then why to settle for less. Do something different that leaves an impact on people’s mind and enjoy the equal rights you have given.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.
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