Dowry was not a social malpractice like corruption, etc. The circumstances under which it was prevalent earlier, justified its existence. When there were joint families, every family had a number of son’s and daughter’s. Since the daughter’s were married off, they were given their share in the family property in advance (during marriage) in the name of dowry. After that, daughter’s did not have any rights on the family property/lands etc.
This system as I see it, was fair and fine till may be about 100 years back. When the law allowed equal share for both men and women in the ancestral property, dowry should have immediately ceased to exist. Or rather, people should have stopped taking/giving dowry. To see that it lives on, in every class of the society irrespective of one’s education and knowledge of the law that prevents families from exchanging wealth during marriages, is a shocker!
In South Indian marriages, there is a separate room where all the gifts from the girl’s side is displayed brazenly for the amusement of the guests. The first thing that anyone asks after they come to know about a marriage is not about studies or family background. But it’s invariably about how much dowry is being offered!
In fact, a boy is declared to be suitable for marriage if parents think that a size-able amount of money can be demanded based on the income/work, etc. The girl is declared to be suitable for marriage, if their parents are able to arrange the required funds to be given as dowry. And then, there are relatives. In some communities, relatives get commission (for connecting boy’s family and girl’s family) depending on the dowry amount facilitated by them!
- Is dowry a substitute to work? I know many families whose main source of income and main source of building a house, etc is the money obtained illegally through dowry. Many people don’t take up any credible work outside home and some of them just sit and eat in their homes because they have got the bumper ‘dowry’ prize!
- Do you think once the money is given, people will stop asking for it? Don’t you think dowry is the seed for life-long demands from the boy’s family?
- Is dowry given by the girl’s side to control their daughter and son-in-law by making them economically dependent on the parents?
- Isn’t dowry illegal? How can a whole nation shamelessly break the law? Does it mean that we don’t value the laws set by our representatives, for our own good?
- If you think dowry benefits women, it definitely doesn’t. It just enslaves women and makes them dependent on the money earned by others. It discourages them from working and being independent.
- Is the amount of dowry given during marriages a way to show-off one’s social status? I have seen cars (given as dowry) proudly displayed outside marriage halls!
- Don’t people play the sudden increase in dowry amounts just before one day of the marriage and force women into submission with ‘accepted amount of dowry was never given by your parents’ dialogue?
- Dowry based deaths/harassments have always been happening. Do all of them come to our notice? Isn’t female infanticide, a result of dowry?
- With girls and boys equally educated and earning equally today, why should the girl’s side still pay dowry?
- Because girl’s parents paid hefty amounts in dowry, they suffer huge debts for rest of their lives. Is it right to put one’s parents who brought us up, into such a horrific situation? When they need money or some care during old age, people don’t as much turn up. Forget helping. If no dowry was involved, couldn’t girl’s parents have saved enough money to plan their own future?
The biggest question that puzzles me is – Why do girl’s parents insist on paying dowry? What do you think is the motivation for it?