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Dowry System: The Unrevealed Crime

The dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride's family gives to the groom, his parents and his relatives as a condition of the marriage. Dowry is essentially in the nature of a payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to the groom's family along with the bride and includes cash, jewelry, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils, vehicles and other household items that help the newlyweds set up their home.

The dowry system can put great financial burden on the bride's family. In some cases, the dowry system leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional abuse and injury to even deaths. The payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws including the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 defines dowry:

Dowry means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly:
  1. by one party in marriage to the other party in marriage; or
  2. by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to marriage or to any other persons;
At or before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal law applies.

Impact of Dowry System

  • Gender Discrimination:
    Due to the dowry system, many a times it has been seen that women are seen as a liability and are often subjected to subjugation and are given second hand treatment may it be in education or other amenities.
  • Affecting Career of Women:
    The larger context for the practice of dowry is the poor presence of women in the workforce, and their consequent lack of financial independence.
    • The Poorer sections of society who send their daughters out to work and earn some money, to help them save up for her dowry.
    • The regular middle and upper class backgrounds do send their daughters to school, but don't emphasize career options.
  • Many Women End Up Being Unmarried:
    An uncountable number of girls in the country, despite being educated and professionally competent, remain endlessly unmarried because their parents cannot fulfil the demand for pre-marriage dowry.
  • Objectification of Women:
    Contemporary dowry is more like an investment by the bride's family for plugging into powerful connections and money making opportunities.

Important steps to eradicate dowry

  • Educate your daughters
  • Encourage them to have their own career
  • Teach them to be independent and responsible
  • Treat them (your daughter) equally without any discrimination
  • Do not encourage the practice of giving or taking dowry
The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 deals with dowry in India.

What is this law about?

  • This Act prohibits the practice of giving or taking of dowry by either parties to a marriage. This law also punishes demanding and advertising dowry.
  • It imposes a duty on parties getting married to make a list of gifts and presents.
  • If dowry has been exchanged at a wedding anyway, it imposes a duty on the person who is given dowry to give it to the bride.
  • Note that the more serious crimes in relation to dowry such as dowry death and cruelty from dowry demands are punishable under the general law on crimes � the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Who can be punished under this Act?

  • Any person who gives or takes dowry (minimum punishment of five years);
  • Any person who helps someone to give or take dowry;
  • Anyone who in any way demands dowry;
  • Anyone who advertises and offers to give money or property in return for marrying his son, daughter or relative;
  • Anyone who publishes these advertisements;
  • Anyone who does not hand over the dowry to the bride within the specified time.
The practice of dowry is not only illegal but also unethical. Therefore, the conscience of society needs to be fully awakened to the evils of the dowry system so that the demand for dowry itself should lead to 'loss of face' in society for those who demand it.

Say no to dowry!

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Sujoy Paul
Ph. no: 7029253050, Email ID: [email protected]
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