The giving of gifts or money (otherwise known as a dowry) to a groom on behalf of the bride’s family is common practice in India, a marital tradition which dates back centuries. The dowry buys into people’s pride and desire to “save face” and the system (and exactly what is given) has substantial consequences for families and women in general. The financial restraints a dowry can place on a girl’s family coupled with the increasing abuse of the tradition on the part of the groom or his family has seen public perception of dowry giving change, with the government now stepping in to regulate its practice.
The origins of the dowry system in India have been greatly debated. One theory is that historically parents of the bride nominally provided gifts such as jewelry and everyday household items to the bride which evolved over time to providing a sum of money to the groom’s family. Another, more patriarchal view, alleges that daughters were “given” away and that grooms were offered gifts (and eventually money) as somewhat of a bribe to ensure the fair treatment of the woman. The exact sum of money was dictated by the groom’s education and social standing, however its initial intention was to act as a safeguard should something happen to the groom in his lifetime rendering him no longer able to provide for his wife and eventual children.
The practice became commonplace during the Middle Ages, with fathers who were looking to ensure a strong family bloodline paying top price for grooms of good ancestry.
While the dowry system still exists in India today, its function has changed somewhat, becoming an unspoken mandate and being viewed these days as something of a bargaining chip when arranging marriages. The more educated a groom is, the more money his family can demand as a dowry. Parents start saving for their daughters’ dowries from birth, placing a financial burden on families of low socio-economic backgrounds.
But it doesn’t just come from above. There is a call on young people not to tolerate dowry giving and receiving practices when getting married. There are conflicting arguments as to what the solution here is. Education is imperative yes, though some state that it is within the more educated and literate areas of India that female infanticide and feticide numbers are the highest.
Short Essay on Dowry System in India - Important India
On a state level, it is also argued that strong and consistent punishment of offenders as well as fair investigation of each case would send a clear message to people that they will be penalized heavily if they participate in dowry giving or receiving or related abuse.
Essays on Conclusion Of Dowry System In Nepal - Essay …
The blowout of the dowry system forced the government to take action in the middle of last century, introducing the Anti-Dowry Act in 1961 which outlawed the giving and receiving of dowries. After its introduction, the act received little support and was not strongly enforced, leading to a rampant and thriving illegal market for dowries.
Essay on Dowry System; Essay on Child Rights in Nepal.
It wasn’t until later in the twentieth century, when women’s rights groups were campaigning strongly against dowries and former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi organized the marriage of her son without accepting a dowry from the bride’s parents, that the public really took notice, leading to an amendment of the Anti-Dowry Act in 1989 and public enforcement of the law. Among other initiatives, the government established an all-female police taskforce in 1992, set up with the sole purpose of investigating dowry dispute-related abuse or deaths. There are now more than 300 of these police taskforces across the country.