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A woman is burned every hour in India! the ugly truth of Dowry system

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Dowry system

Marriage is a beautiful, as two people decide to knot the ties for forever, one can see that on the one hand, the marriage brings tons of happiness and joy, yet there lies another side, a little darker one which brings assault, harassment and dowry. The dowry system is not new in India- it has been practiced for centuries. What is it? Well, dowry is simple, in which parents give gifts to their daughters when she marries. It is a beautiful practice, isn’t it? So what’s the darker side we are talking about? Dowry in India today has become a system where the gifts have taken the shape of cash, cool cars, and even properties! And to whom? Of course not to their daughter but their son in Laws. In easy words, the dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a circumstance of the marriage. Apart from this, what is more bizarre, is the fact that today it has become a compulsion on the bride’s family. Hence, not given but demanded.

But how did dowry end up being a crime?

Marriage is a beautiful, as two people decide to knot the ties for forever, one can see that on the one hand, the marriage brings tons of happiness and joy, yet there lies another side, a little darker one which brings assault, harassment and dowry. The dowry system is not new in India- it has been practiced for centuries. What is it? Well, dowry is simple, in which parents give gifts to their daughters when she marries. It is a beautiful practice, isn’t it? So what’s the darker side we are talking about? Dowry in India today has become a system where the gifts have taken the shape of cash, cool cars, and even properties! And to whom? Of course not to their daughter but their son in Laws. In easy words, the dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a circumstance of the marriage. Apart from this, what is more bizarre, is the fact that today it has become a compulsion on the bride’s family. Hence, not given but demanded.

Today in India, dowry is a compulsion as mentioned above, and by chance, the bride’s family fails to meet the needs, their daughter’s marriage suffers, and even if the requirement is fulfilled, it is not enough. Women are treated like animals if they don’t bring money along with them. They are asked for more and more, and when they fail in fulfilling, they are punished or beaten badly, and sometimes the assault is so brutal that the women end up losing their lives. Thus, the dowry system in the country today has become a part of the crime — a punishable act in which the constitution of our country needs to stop. In dowry deaths, the groom’s family is the perpetrator of murder or suicide. 

According to a report by the Indian Police Department, every year, around 2,500 reports of bride-burning are being filed. As per the National Crime Record Bureau report, a total number of 24,771 dowry deaths have been reported in India from 2012-2014. Rich or poor, educated or not, arranged marriage or love, dowry practices are so standard in India that it doesn’t seem like an injustice to a lot in the many areas of the country. The number of cases filed with the police may not be a poor indicator of the extent of domestic violence that women face, because many of them don’t complain about the injustice happening with them, which raises another question why? India is a country where children are grown up learning about respect, honor, culture, and morals. One thing which most of the girls during their childhood are taught that their birth home is not their home, but the house of their future spouse will be their real home and to support this belief, they are asked to corporate with whatever they face in order to prevent their marriage from breaking. This is the main reason why most of the women don’t complain about the injustice happening with them after or before the wedding. The thought of “Log Kya Kahenge” haunts people even today.

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On October 4 in 2017, Pooja Shirgire, from a village in Maharashtra, wrote the last letter to her family. Her father had no clue that her daughter would be dead when he came back from work. In the note, Pooja blamed the societal pressure on her father as the reason behind her situation. The unwanted burden of dowry on his debt-ridden father forced her to take such a step. Therefore just like Pooja, there are hundreds of girls and women either making their own lives or are being murdered, all because of dowry, and consequences are not limited to the women only. As you know in India, women are subject of family’s honor and just to save this honor, the bride’s family many times gets under vast amounts of debts so that their daughters could be married happily.    

The dowry prohibition act 1961, is an act to prohibit the giving and taking of the dowry. In this act, ‘dowry’ means any property or valuable security given and agreed to given either directly or non-directly, by any party to the marriage to another party. In 1983, Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code were enacted to make it easier for Indian women to seek redressal for molestation by the bridegroom’s family. The punishment involves imprisonment for at least five years and imprisonment of not less than six months if demanded dowry. This was a pretty impressive step taken by the government to reduce the dowry tension in the country. But within a few years, this act has taken an ugly turn. India’s anti-dowry laws are being misused, often resulting in the clearing of accused once the courts have scrutinized the matter. Almost 80 percent of all the dowry cases in India end in acquittal. While many women have taken recourse to the law to get justice and freedom from violent marriages. Supreme Court noted in July 2017 that the law is being increasingly “misused by some wives” to frame their husbands and his family. In the last 11 years from 2006 to 2016 for every case that resulted in a conviction, five other cases resulted false which again reveals another side of the dowry issue, and due to these incorrect cases, the actual instances never gets a chance to come into the light or either receive late judgment. The women who are misusing the laws are actually threatening the freedom of the needy ones. In today’s era, this has become social unrest in society.

Addressing the issue- “There should be gender justice for women as dowry has a chilling effect on marriage on one hand, and on the other hand, there is right to life and personal liberty of the man,” the bench said while reserving the verdict in September 2018.

And this misuse is not limited to the dowry act. Some women in INDIA, today are misusing the laws made for them. Either be it rape, domestic violence, assault or dowry- men are being falsely accused. This accusation in return again encourages the male community to act aggressively towards the female community. And similarly the scenario continues. It’s a complete loop. Have you ever wondered why the women’s situation is not getting better? Well, this is the reason! The women themselves hold a share of the blame. The laws should be made gender-neutral whether be it for a man or women, both should have a share of giving justification.    

This misuse of this law is not limited to the dowry act. Some women in INDIA, today are misusing the laws made for them. Either be it rape, domestic violence, assault, or dowry, men are majorly falsely accused. This accusation, in return again, encourages the male community to act aggressively towards the female population, and similarly, the scenario continues. It’s a complete loop. Have you ever wondered why the women’s situation is not getting better? Well, this is the reason! The women themselves hold a share of the blame. The laws should be made gender-neutral, whether be it for a man or women, both should have a stock of giving justification.    

Coming back to the endowment, many people have shared from their personal experiences that the dowry even being a crime has managed to take its seat in the Indian culture. Today parents willingly give dowry and brag about it proudly in front of others. Well, we are not saying that this is wrong. She is your daughter, whatever you want to give it’s okay. But the concern goes towards bragging because due to this other family — including mine — still expect them. This may not be a big deal for the wealthy. But let us remind you that 21.9% of the Indian population still lives below the national poverty line, and managing to get their daughters married is a huge task. So, a straightforward solution to this issue is just awareness. Awareness of not what the endowment is but knowledge of what consequences dowry leads to. The negative impact that dowry brought to man and a woman should be known so that the people can take action according to themselves.

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