The Dowry System

My beloved girl, I love you… I care you… I want you… I am constructing these high walls so that you will be secured… You stay in this kitchen that no one else would stare at my beloved… I will look after you well because your father has paid me well and full… You are my great treasure. So I am locking you up in these heavy chains that no one will take away you… Don’t move. I will protect you… Because, You are my beloved wife… FOR SALE India is a great land that has its rich heritage from the Vedic culture.
From the very beginning of civilizations itself women had a great prominence in the society. She was worshipped as a deity, she was given respect and even the nature or the ‘prakrithi ’ was considered to be a woman. The later period witnessed a gradual transition and a gender discrimination occurred leading to the marginalization of women. We see in the epic, Ramayana saying that woman has to be protected by her father in her adolescent period, husband in the youth and by her son in her old age. The woman does not deserve freedom any time.
There were customs that ‘bought’ beautiful young bride to the family after ‘paying’ a good amount to bride’s parents. Even in this cyber century we see this being followed deliberately in the educated society and the greatest, disgusting evil that comes out of this marginalization is the “dowry system” or as it is presently called ‘The gift system’ . An embryo formed with two X chromosome is hunted from the very stage when it is called ‘she’ or ‘girl’. And then it is what Simon de Bouveire said, “A WOMAN IS NOT BORN. SHE IS MADE”. A girl child born to a family often hears,’ look, you are a girl’.

This is how the stereotyping occurs. She is taught certain ‘norms’ that society constructed, forced to do certain assigned duties and is brought up to be a good wife and good mother. She is expected to be caring, loving, passionate, sacrificing, and hardworking and express the so called ‘feminine qualities’. She is then sold and bought to another family… Marriage is the happy blending of two individuals with the vows made to love and take care of each other. It is the harmony between two families too. Earlier woman was made to sit at home and look after her husband and children.
Dowries were given as an asset or help to the family in case some tragedy occur to her husband. It was a help. In the later stages it began to be a ‘demand’. Now it is the matter of ‘pride’. When the dowry prohibition acts imposed tried to halt these it was the birth of the “GIFT SYSTEM”. Marriage is considered to have occurred in the heavens. It is wished to be happy. But sometimes it becomes a lifelong chain to woman. From time the girl child is born, her parents often think about her marriage. The price to be offered and the jewels to be bought are calculated equally among the rich and the poor.
The poor and the middle class suffer mostly due to this system. The Dalit woman has to undergo double marginalization, the caste and the gender. The parent has to work hard to find ways that can ‘marry of’ the girl and the families often get into heavy debt once the ceremonies get over. The stage were dowry became a demand was the most ‘tragic period’ were girls married were slaughtered by their merciless “destiny”. Even after the marriage money is demanded again and again by the husband and the in laws. They are threatened that the girl would be send back to home at the failure of the demands.
After the ceaseless suffering the bride finally is killed or commits suicide. This was called ‘Bride burning’. This was often ignored by the society calling it a suicide. It is in this background that the Dowry prohibition act came into existence to ensure the equality and rights promised by the Indian constitution. When the law imposed limitations this was modified and known as The Gift System. Luxury car, Gold showered and the pocket money are ‘gifted’ to their daughter and her husband. There is a clear cut violation of the law with the permission of the ‘accused and the victims’.
It is now matter of the Pride of the family. This shows how deeply this is rooted in each Indian. The wedding ceremonies take an amount more than a development scheme of a slum takes. Can a change be brought to this system? Earlier we could say that this was due to ignorance. But now how could educated women in a well developed society be a part of this? Feminism movements could not make a change to this evil. It’s each of us that encourage these. It’s ironic that woman who are on the boy’s side are more vicious to the bride. It should be understood that it’s not part of pride but Vanity.
Each has their own role to do in this matter. The bride and her parents should pay respect to themselves and keep their dignity. She is not a commodity FOR SALE. Boys should be bold enough to say that they are stubborn to look after the family without the dowry. It should be the girl that they should marry. The ones who go for dowry should be ashamed to put a price tag on their wife. The girl should have the freedom to come to her home at any circumstance and get divorce at the worst. Pay respect to each other and keep up individuality. Make relations healthy and happy. Let them no more be in tears.

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