Dowry is a gift of money or valuables given by the family of the bride, to the family of the groom at the time of marriage. Though initially implemented by the wealthy, it is now a form of insurance in the case of the in-laws mistreating the wife. Though legally prohibited in 1961, dowry also known as dahej, continues to be highly institutionalized. What resulted from increased dowry demands were dowry deaths or bride burning which is the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Every 12 hours a dowry related death claimed to have taken the lives of over 20,000 women across
It is ironic that in
Though prohibited, dowries are commonly asked for by the families of the groom. The families of the daughter have to comply in order for families to get their daughters married. This leads to further problems like those of child infanticide which is the killing of female infants because of the problems families have to face in getting her married some day. It also solidifies the position of woman as subordinate to the man. Brides are being sold like market commodities and being tortured when the greed of the groom and his family is not satisfied. What can be done to stop such customs if the law isn’t enough? The punishment for dowry death is already 7 yrs which most certainly isn’t enough time for murder. Then again, the Indian Government does not recognize dowry death to be murder. Also, a lot of women who are subject to torture do not lodge a police complaint as it would bring dishonor to their family.
Social laws are required where culture has failed to institutionally stop injustices of dowry deaths. More importantly there needs to be a cultural rethinking on the status of women which can occur only through education. The problem is compounded by the fact that 63 percent of the female population in