The dowry system can place a significant financial strain on the bride’s family.
The dowry system leads to violence against women in certain circumstances, ranging from mental abuse and physical harm to death. Dowry payment has long been outlawed by particular Indian legislation, notably the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, adopted by the Indian Parliament, and later by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
Has that been effective in removing the dowry system from India? According to Article 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the punishment for providing or receiving dowry does not apply to presents offered to the bride or groom at the time of marriage when no demand for them has been made.
People in India are way more intelligent than the laws. They changed its name to rituals for dowry, which isn’t against the law, right?
Adding to this, Author Monarose Sheila Pereira says, “the dowry system has not totally vanished from India. It just takes a different form like – give whatever you like; give what will keep yr daughter comfortable like a washing machine to reduce her workload; give d groom a bike so he can take your daughter for outings. I still hear of rich and poor both taking dowry. The word dowry has taken a new avatar called gifting. Indians love easy money like bribes and dowry. One does not have to work for it. It’s just squeezing a freebee from the bride’s side.”
Although Indian anti-dowry laws have existed for decades, they have been widely criticized as ineffectual. Dowry killings and murders continue to occur unchecked in many regions of India, adding to enforcement issues.
Now the question is, what are the factors that encourage this system? Economics and poor legal systems on inheritance disfavor women, with inheritances, handed only to sons.
This makes women reliant on their husbands and in-laws, who get the dowry when they marry. Dowry provided women with economic and financial stability in the form of moveable assets in their marriage, at least in principle. This served to keep the bride’s family’s money intact while also providing protection. Including this, other social and religious factors encourage the dowry system in India.
Because she is monetarily and socially bound to her new husband, newly married women might be a target for dowry-related abuse. Dowry is often utilized as a threat or hostage scenario to obtain more property from the bride’s family.
This is more noticeable in new brides, the most susceptible in the system. Dowry crimes can occur in conjunction with the threat or actuality of violence, leaving the bride’s family with little alternative but to offer an extra dowry to safeguard their daughter. Dowry-related violence is more prevalent in India’s northern and eastern states.
Continued abuse and threats of danger by the spouse and his relatives may lead to a woman committing suicide. In such cases, the dowry crime extends to suicide abetment, which covers any acts and attempts to willfully counsel, urge, or help someone in committing suicide.
The dowry may leave a woman feeling helpless and desperate, leading to emotional distress and violence. Dowry abuse leads to emotional pain, sadness, and suicide. In 2020, there were about 7,000 recorded dowry death cases in India.