DOWRY: A BURNING ISSUE
Today, dowry is a burning topic in India. Every morning we read in newspapers that one or more brides are burned to death for dowry. Such news items are common that they cause no effect on the readers. None raises his voice against dowry.
Dowry, at first, was a religious practice in the form of gifts. It was prevalent only among royal families. King and emperors used to give costly gifts to their daughters. It was the part of their pomp and show. Sometimes it was given to fulfill their selfish motives in political sphere too. They used to confer a portion of their kingdom just to strengthen the relationships. Ordinary people could give very few things and brides were rarely accepted by the in-laws without dowry.
But now a day’s dowry has become part and parcel of one’s life. Even the family members of the bride are exploited. Gradually it became a custom. In some communities cash ad presentation articles worth lakhs are demanded and offered. They are not ashamed of taking a big amount and costly items for them. They don’t bother about whether the bride is not beautiful, illiterate or otherwise. The only criteria are that the bride should bring as dowry heavy amount and costly presents. Today it has become a business. There is no value for her beauty, wisdom or abilities. They are useless without high amount of dowry.
Thus the family of girls is ruined. Some brides have to lead horrible lives. Her husband or his parents harass her for dowry. Formerly, the parents of girls were not bound to give dowry. They used to give something useful to their daughters according to their means. But today the values have been changed. In olden days the birth of a female child was celebrated as the arrival of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, but now it is considered as a curse on the whole family. Many brides commit suicide not being able to give dowry and not being able to bear the harassment of their husband and in-laws. It seems that the marriage has become a business in which bride grooms are being sold or auctioned. The higher the education and qualification of the groom, the higher the rates of dowry will be.
The main cause of all these evils is that man is becoming more and more materialistic. He is running after money. This means that the mentality of the society has made such big furnace in the society where every day many girls are burnt to death. They burn the brides and remarry to bring more riches to their families.
To put an end to this social evil, the Central Government has passes Anti-Dowry (Amendment) Act, 1984. Today, taking dowry is a punishable offence with imprisonment and heavy fine. Now, those who preach against dowry practice this secretly? People must take a human approach to this problem. Anti-dowry Associations should be organized. Public opinion must be mobilized against this malady. Economic independence for girls should be ensured.
On the part of youngsters also, there are problems. Boys want dowry to maintain their higher status. Even the girls want dowry in maintain their high status in the new family. Education also has failed to eradicate this social evil. Only the young generation can put an end to this.