EVILS OF DOWRY
There are many dead, rotten, harmful and old traditions and customs that still prevail in our society. They are a blot on the fair name of our culture and civilization. Dowry system is one of these curses. It has been customary to give cash and many valuable articles by the parents of a girl in her marriage, to the bridegroom. This evil practice is spreading rapidly in spite of loud protests, legislations, public condemnation and bride-burnings. Even highly educated, civilized, modern and well-off families and people are not free from it. Many people have been found publicity denouncing but secretly indulging in the practice of the evil. This reflects how selfish, inhuman and greedy we can be. It is really amazing how low we can stoop to serve our mean and selfish ends.
During the recent years there has been significant increase in the cases of bride burning and dowry-deaths. Everyday many cases are registered with the police and other law-enforcing agencies all over the country. There are reports in periodicals and newspapers of harassment, threats and deaths of young married women, because of the reasons connected with dowry. The vice and menace has been on the increase very dangerously in spite of very vocal and theoretical protests. But the irony is that on practical level most of these people are willing parties in the vice. This exposes the bankruptcy of our ethics and double standards of thinking and practice.
No doubt, the practice of dowry had social, religious and cultural sanction in ancient and medieval India. But in present circumstances and situations it is totally undesirable and condemnable. It is an evil which should be eradicated immediately. It is totally against our democratic, social and cultural ethos and values. It discriminates against women and tries to show that women are inferior to men. It is a direct and blatant attack on the equality of women guaranteed by our constitution. It is a cancer eating into our very moral and social fabric.
Dowry system has also given rise to many other social evils and practices like corruption, bribe taking, exploitation, killing of infant girls, suicide among women besides bride-burning. The parents of unmarried young women feel obliged to collect money and wealth by immoral and corrupt means so as to be able to give sufficient dowry in the marriage. It has also forced many a girl into immoral activities to earn money for her dowry. It creates hatred, bitterness and contempt among relatives, especially between in-laws and wife and husband. It has also helped in the increase of black money and unaccounted earnings. Thus, the evils of dowry are many and dangerous. These should be effectively checked and eradicated.
In spite of many legislative measures and social reforms, the evil is still on increase. It is an offence to give or take dowry or help in such transactions and yet it is widely practiced. It has turned marriages into a market of buying grooms and sacrificing girls and young women. What is needed is strict enforcement of the provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act and proper public awareness. But our so-called leaders themselves follow double standards and indulge in the evil with impunity. They spend lavishly in marriages and give and take dowry openly. They consider it a symbol of their status and self respect. Morals always percolate from the high to the low level. The common people are bound to follow their leaders. Unless the leaders follow what they say and preach, the masses cannot be expected to improve their morals.
To check the menace of dowry, a wide and popular movement should be started. In the movement, all sections of the society on village, town and city levels should be involved. The political parties and their workers can play a significant role in it, if they are really sincere about it. Anti-dowry laws and their enforcement should be made more stringent. The leaders and personalities indulging in the crime should be exposed and denied election tickets, party positions and such other social and political opportunities. The press and other mass media like TV, radio, films etc., should come forward and create a public opinion and awareness against the practice of dowry.
The women should organize themselves more unitedly and purposefully against dowry. They should revolt against its practice in any form. Young women should refuse to marry if dowry is demanded. They should oppose their parents if they agree to give dowry in their marriages. They should stand up on their feet economically and socially. Their dependence on man for protection, help and finance has been their great handicap. Women themselves are to blame to a larger extent for their exploitation. The number of women’s organization should be increased, so as to demonstrate and stage protests against people and families demanding or giving dowry. Compulsory registration of marriages can also help to improve the situation a lot. The women should never think that they belong to a weaker sex or are inferior in any way to men. They should wage their own war of liberation, equality and empowerment. God helps those who help themselves. Unless they themselves come forward and fight the evil tooth and nail, nothing significant can be achieved. Women are half the number and strength of India. They can achieve anything if they are determined and rise up as a united body. Anti-dowry laws already exist. They should see that they are strictly and sincerely implemented both in letter and spirit.
This evil practice can only by controlled and finally eradicated if the youth of the nation is determined. The young men and women in schools, colleges, universities, training institutions and professions should resolve to eliminate this curse once and for all. They should resolve not to demand or give dowry, come what may. Sometimes girls themselves demand dowry, while in most other cases boys and their parents insists on taking dowry in marriages. It really reduces the bridegroom and his parents to beggars, exploiters and followers of the Evil. Relationship based on bargaining, exploitation and such demands as dowry can never be happy, peaceful and respectful. The sooner all of us understand it, the better.