DOWRY FREE MARRIAGE: WHY WE FAIL TO ABOLISH?

Introduction

Dowry, a parasitic evil is a threat to our Indian society. The custom of dowry in our country is spreading at an unprecedented rate.  Dowry is the transfer of wealth from the bride’s side to the groom’s side which includes property, money, jewelry, furniture, automobile, etc. It was introduced in a way to show love, affection, and care for the newly married couple.

But now it is losing its true motive and intention and is a social evil to the society. It had started causing pain, and emotional and mental harm to the bride’s family. This dowry system has put the wife in such a fragile, vulnerable, and torturous position.

The bride has started being treated as an asset to the groom’s family.  Dowry brings about a burden on the bride’s family. Dowry is the worst dream for a woman which makes her feel that she is a liability for her family. 

The dowry system has been in our country since ever and now it is getting harder to eliminate it. Dowry is a very serious crime in our country. To protect these young girls and women from dowry-related issues, proper education, and awareness should be given.

Lack of education and awareness is one of the main reasons for these crimes in our country. It is a deep-rooted problem that is affecting women physically, emotionally, and mentally which needs to be stopped at the earliest.

Dowry acts as a suicidal bag for the families which are not so financially strong. The dowry system should be completely eradicated in our country wherever it is being practiced and followed. Even the government needs to intervene and take action against the families supporting the dowry system. Both the giver and receiver of the dowry should be punished.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961 was enacted on 1st May which prohibits and puts a stop to giving and receiving of dowry. Dowry includes money, furniture, property, gold, etc. given by one of the parties to another or anyone else in connection with marriage. 

The act also states the minimum and maximum punishment for giving or receiving dowry and the penalty for the same.  The act was later modified in 1983 and stated the crimes relating to dowry which include cruelty, dowry death, and abetment of suicide. 

  • If any person is found giving or taking dowry 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 a fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more:
  • 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:
    Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months.

Why do we fail to abolish the Dowry system?

  • Illiteracy

Lack of proper education is one of the most important cases of the dowry system. Even today millions of people cannot read and write which is a matter of great concern. So many parents resist their daughters from going to school which leaves them with the only option of getting married off at an early age. Due to lack of education, many out there are unaware of the laws that are enacted by the government against dowry 

  • Old customs and traditions

The practice of the dowry system has been followed for ages. People now resort to old customs and ask for dowry. In earlier times dowry system was a mere marital tradition and just a form of gift which now is changing to a market transaction

  • Social status

In our society, losing a marriage proposal is hurtful and destructive for the bride’s family status. Despite their financial status they seek to give exceptional gifts like money, property, furniture, gold, etc. to maintain their social status in the family which gives rise to the dowry system in India. 

  • Ignorance of laws

People pay no regard to anti-dowry laws and exploit the dowry system for some material and monetary benefits. Anti-dowry laws are being ignored, people hardly pay attention to these laws. These laws are not effectively implemented and half of the people are not even aware of the laws enacted by the government for the prohibition of the dowry system. 

Eradication of dowry system- The need of the hour. 

Marriage for women these days is more like a market transaction. Despite being financially weak there lies a burden on the bride’s family to give dowry which is a serious crime and needs to be stopped as soon as possible. The Dowry system is becoming a big problem in our society.  Some of the ways by which the dowry system can be eradicated are:

  • Social Awareness 

Spreading awareness against this heinous crime is the first step towards eradicating the dowry system. Awareness programs should be organized in a view to spreading awareness of legal provisions against dowry. Awareness campaigns could be a good initiative to motivate people of the country regarding the regulation of anti-dowry legislatures.

  • Education 

Education could be the most indispensable source for eradication of the dowry system. Education should teach everyone that a girl is a valued human neither an asset nor a liability. Families should be well educated and aware to instill strength to refuse the dowry system in the future. There should be more emphasis on educating girls to fight this evil. Knowing their rights will help and encourage them to stand and raise their voice against the practice of dowry.

  • Laws

Several laws have been enacted to curb the dowry system being practiced against women. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed on 20 May 1961 aims to eradicate the practice of dowry from the country. 

The act not only prohibits the practice of dowry but also penalizes for the same. Punishment for the same is a minimum imprisonment of five years or a fine of 15,000 rupees. 

  • Enforcement of laws

Mere implementation of laws will not eradicate the practice of the dowry system in the country. It will require proper and strict enforcement of laws. Lack of proper investigation often makes the accused free. A zero-tolerance policy should be strictly ensured to eradicate the practice of the dowry system

  • Change of mindsets

The biggest challenge for the people of India is to change their mindsets to push back against the evil tradition of the dowry system. There’s a need to realize that the position of men and women is exactly the same. Women themselves need to change the perception that they are inferior to men.

Conclusion

Dowry, the most threatening tool, and a social stigma can be removed by our society’s contribution and awareness. Why make a daughter’s father poor just for dowry? The Dowry system is the cause of agitation for many girls in our society.

The ways and solutions mentioned to eradicate the dowry system in our country should strictly be followed and incorporated. Our government should follow strict rules and penalize those who are supporting the dowry system.

The general public and government must join hands to remove this dowry system.  Today, dowry continues to be a socially accepted and rational outcome of the current Indian marriage market. True progress in the elimination of the dowry system will only come through endeavors to create awareness among Indian communities about the negative effects of dowry, through programs and government sanctions that endorse education and employment for women of all ages, and through a fundamental change in the attitudes of Indian peoples.

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