By: Ammar Zaidee
Dowry is the kind of remuneration which is given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family in form the of cash and goods .It is an unethical practice but is unrestrained in our country, Pakistan, where even the elite class and most of the educated people follow this system with joy and pride. Today, marriages have become the game of dowry-hunters and this is why girls are tagged as burden on their parents. This social illnesses indirectly gives rise to many other domestic issues, for example, domestic violence and sex-selective abortion and many other issues.
‘The wedding should be in a big banquet, with a lot of dishes and don’t forget to gift 20 kg of gold to your daughter’. This is a common statement that a bride’s parents can expect to hear from the groom’s side, who can make endless demands in our patriarchal society. The dowry (Jahez) system is a culturally powerful and socially acceptable violence that has destroyed our society. This custom is commonly practiced in South Asian countries.
According to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16 point 1 and 2, both adult women and men have the right to marry and the marriage should be entered into only with agreement of both partners . But in Pakistan, the rule of law specially, in these cases, is not followed and is worthless.
This is not just a contravention of the basic human right but also a violation to humanity. A study revealed that there are many cases in which a groom’s family agrees to a particular dowry but after marriage they demand new dowry and not meeting the demands results in divorce threats, physical harassment, violence, mental torture and in the end , murder .
Every year 2000 cases of dowry related deaths are reported. Other then this a lot of cases are not even reported because of the death threats giving by groom’s family to bride’s family.
Some people who indulge in the dowry culture, justify their actions by religious teachings, saying that Prophet Mohammad (SAW) also gave dowry to her daughter and it is considered as Sunnah in Islam. These people don’t acknowledge that the gifts he gave his daughter were very simple household items and there’s no evidence of the demands made by the groom’s family. In the case of dowry, we can modify people’s belief by telling them the fact that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) gave very modest household items to her daughter and there were no demands made by the groom, so dowry is considered to be Sunnah only if it is given willfully without any demands fulfilled. For those who consider dowry as a source of economical stability, we should restructure their belief by telling them that it only causes financial burden on the society as the dowry demands are continued even after marriage.
This shows that people have attached some cultural values to this practice, so it is not very easy to eradicate this evil from the society.
We can provide counseling to victim’s family because this curse can be removed only with the courage of parents.
Laws against dowry are there but they have never been implemented. On our part, we can support the victims and spread awareness through social media and electronic media. In conclusion, dowry is a social threats which is eating our society . This social evil gives rise to many issues including female-feticide, suicide, homicide-deaths and many other issues. Despite all its evil consequences, it is unrestrained in our patriarchal society and is the most important custom in our marriages. Steps should be taken to reject this curse and remove it from the society.