God deems birth of a female in the household a blessing from His side. However, many societies particularly the South Asian nations still consider this ‘blessing’ a burden. You don’t need to dwell much on the thought to decipher why it is like that. A lot of ‘draconian’ cultural rituals and practices tied to the birth of female need to be the uprooted. One of them remains to be the ‘dowry culture’.
Over the years many social menaces have been called out and extracted from our society, as the people and systems around them progress. Yet it is so appalling that the practice of ‘dowry’ is still rampant even in the most progressive and educated households. People simply fail to find what is wrong with it. In simple definition, ‘dowry’ or ‘dower’ is the wealth in the shape of ‘property or money’ which a new bride brings to her husband on their marriage. It is often termed as marriage settlement.
Being an ancient practice, dowry has emerged as a ‘deal maker or breaker’ in most desi marriages. In many marriage proposals, particularly for women, heavy dowries are expected and demanded from the bride’s family, landing huge financial strain on them.
In many ‘traditional’ families, parents choose not to invest much on their daughter’s education and upbringing, but rather reserve huge resources for their wedding expenditures and dowries. This inadvertently deprives young women the right to attain better education or explore good career prospects. It is also restrains and circumvents their personal growth and ability to stand up for themselves. Other than curbing their personal and social development, it also lands immense financial strain on the family. Many parents invest their life-long savings and hard-earned money into building dowry for their daughters. There have been many incidents where dowry settlements have bordered on acts of violence against women in form of acid attacks, killings and more.
Dowry settlements are draconian practices that need to be discouraged by progressive households and families. Because of the measure of strain, issues and evil it instigates in society, government should consider banning it.
Contrary to popular belief, dowers are not mandated by the religion. The family of the bride is in no legal or religious obligation to arrange dowry – it should be made entirely voluntary but largely discouraged.