Introduction practices such as the payment of dowry

Introduction

        Dowry is the payment in cash or/and
kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’ s family along with the giving
away of the bride in Indian marriage. “Kanyadanam” is an important
part of Hindu marital rites. Kanya means daughter, and dana means gift. Dowry
originated in upper caste families as the wedding gift to the bride from her
family. The dowry was later given to help with marriage expenses and became a
form of insurance in the case that her in-laws mistreated her. It continues to
be highly institutionalized. The groom often demands a dowry consisting of a
large sum of money, farm animals, furniture, and electronics. The main purpose
of a dowry was to provide “seed money” or property for the establishment
of a new household as the beginning of the new life, to help a husband feed and
protect his wife, and to give the wife and children some support if he were to
die1. This property was “beyond the dowry” and was known as
paraphernalia property or extra-dotal property. One of the basic functions of a
dowry has been to serve as a form of defense for the wife against the
possibility of ill treatment by her husband and his family. In other words, the
dowry provides an incentive to the husband not to harm his wife. A husband thus
had certain property rights in his wife’s dowry. In addition, the wife might
bring to the marriage property of her own, which was not included in the dowry
and which was, as a result, she is alone responsible2.

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        The practice of dowry abuse is rising
in day by day. The most severe in “bride burning”, the burning of
women whose dowry was not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws.
Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are
disguised as suicide. It is evident that there exist deep-rooted prejudices
alongside women. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to
subordinate women in Indian society. “Reasonable
dowry for a reasonable match” was advocated in our male-dominated society
in the name of religion and culture, in some cases to deny a girl her share in
the inheritance, They said dowry was a form of social security for the girl and
more of a burden on the father to the extent that it sometimes made him commit
suicide2.

        When the dowry amount is not considered
sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often harassed, abused and made
miserable. This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband or his family
does burn the bride, often by hammering kerosene on her and lighting it,
usually killing her. A woman is burned to death almost every twelve hours. The
number of dowry murders is increasing. In 1988-2209 women were killed in dowry
related incidents and in 1990, 4,835 were killed. It is important to repeat that
these are official records, which are hugely under reported. According to
figures there were a total of 5,377 dowry deaths in 1993, an increase of 12%
from 1992. Despite the existence of rigorous laws convictions are rare, and
judges are often uninterested and susceptible to bribery. An accurate picture
is difficult to obtain, as statistics are varied and contradictory. In 1995,
there were about 6,000 dowry deaths. Many of the victims are burnt to
death-they are doused in kerosene and set light to. Routinely the in-laws claim
that what happened was simply an accident. The kerosene stoves used in many
poorer households are dangerous. When evidence of foul play is too obvious to
ignore, the story changes to suicide-the wife, it is said, could not adjust to
new family life and subsequently killed herself. Dowry is
given as gift but it becomes violence when it is demanded. Although the practice of dowry
exists in many of the countries, it has been assumed that the quantity of a
challenge to the forces of modernity and modify only in sub-continent and the
complex in the running of high class of the society.

History

Dowry
system was introduced in many civilizations after the passage of time in
history,  this was introduced to share
the burden in terms of expenses for settling a new household. In Athens the
absence of dowry would call into question the legitimacy of the marriage.
Guardian was required to provide dowry to bride.

European History of Dowry: Dowry was widely practiced in
Europe before the European revolution. In Homeric times, the usual Greek
practice was to pay an amount as bride price. Ancient Romans also practiced
dowry, though Tacitus notes that the Germanic tribes practiced the reverse
custom of the dower. Dowries were exchanged in the later classical time (5th
century BC). One common penalty for the kidnapping of an unmarried woman was
that the abductor or rapist had to provide the woman’s dowry. Until the late
20th century this was sometimes called wreath
money or the breach of promise, the Domostroy, a Russian advice book of the
sixteenth century, includes advice to set aside property for purposes of a
dowry so that a women can also get equal rights in property, and use it
accumulate linens, clothing’s, and other things for it, rather than have to suddenly
buy it all for the wedding. if the daughter should happen to die, the dowry
should be used to give alms and for prayers for her soul, although some might
be set aside for other daughters. In some areas of Europe, most recallable
Eastern Europe, land dowries were very common. It was commonly given with the
condition that he will take the surname of his bride, in order to continue the
family name 2-3.

 

Asian History of Dowry: Dowry is a common practice in many
Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many
others. In India, where incidents of bride burning and dowry death acquired
notoriety, the payment of a dowry has been prohibited under. Then 1961 Dowry
Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a
of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Electronic items like refrigerators, television
and washing machines are given by the bride’s parents as part of a ceremony
along with clothes, jewelry, shoes and many other accessories. In recent years
there supposedly has been a rise in dowry deaths even when law enforcing
organizations claim that the situation is under control where as situation
shows vice versa 2&3.

 

          One of the reasons of these social
evils is lack of knowledge and refusal with Islamic teachings and practices are
not being implemented. Hundreds and thousands of educated and well mannered
Muslim girls are leading unmarried lives or believe in late marriages. In a
society where this is the case with unmarried girls, who will bother about the
marriage of widows and divorcees? The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and his companions
have set many practical examples for their followers by marrying widows and
divorcees. Young Muslim girls have to lead unmarried life because of financial
difficulties of their parents or because of the non-availability of appropriate
matches and if matches are available then demands are very much high. Why don’t
we get example of simplicity from the role modal of all the Muslims through out
the world Holy Prophet P.B.U.H that how he spent his life, how did he arrange
marriage ceremony of his beloved daughter Hazrat Fatima R.A.? 2.

 

 

Marriage as a financial transaction

            Young married women are
particularly vulnerable. By custom they go to live in the house of their
husband’s family following the wedding. Dowry is just not the end in terms of
transaction because the greedy parents of the groom do not end their curse. The
wife is often seen as a servant of husband’s family, or if she is working
outside, as a source of income, but has no extraordinary relationship with the
members of her new household and therefore no base of support the family. Some
40% of women are married before the legal age of 18 years. Illiteracy amongst
women is very high, in some rural areas up to 63 %. As a result they are
isolated and often in no position to assert themselves. Demands for dowry can
go on for years. Religious ceremonies and the birth of children often become
the occasions for further requests for money or goods. The inability of the
bride’s family to comply with these demands often leads to the daughter-in-law
being treated as a pariah and subject to abuse. In the worst cases, wives are
simply killed to make way for a new financial transaction, i.e. threat of
second marriage.

“The
will to obtain large dowries from the family of daughters-in-law, to demand
more in cash, gold and other liquid assets, becomes vivid after leafing through
pages of official reports that dutifully record the effects of gratitude,
foreclosures, barren plots and cattle dying for lack of fodder. Dowry becomes
dreaded payments on demand that go together with and follow the marriage of a
daughter.  A “successful”
marriage is often seen by the wife’s family as a means to advance up the social
ladder. But the catch is that there is a price to be paid in the make a truck
of dowry including furnishing of room, split AC, complete furniture of a home,
kitchen use things and electronic home appliances etc. If for any reason that
dowry preparations cannot be met then it is the young woman who suffers in
terms of violence and threats. The price of the groom astronomically enlarged
and was based on his qualifications, occupation and earnings. Doctors, charted
accountants, lawyers and engineers even prior to graduation widen the marvelous
right to expect a ‘fat’ dowry as they make the most hunted after cream of the
graduating and educated dowry association2.

Background Reasons

          Originally, the purpose of a dowry
was to provide “seed money” or property for the establishment of a
new household as the beginning of the new life, to help a husband feed and
protect his wife, and to give the wife and children some support if he were to die.
This property was “beyond the dowry” (the root of paraphernalia) and
was known as paraphernalia property or extra-dotal property. One of the basic
functions of a dowry has been to serve as a form of defense for the wife
against the possibility of ill treatment by her husband and his family. In
other words, the dowry provides an incentive to the husband not to harm his
wife. A husband thus had certain property rights in his wife’s dowry. In
addition, the wife might bring to the marriage property of her own, which was
not included in the dowry and which was, as a result, she is alone responsible.

 

Duties and Rights of Husband and
Wife after marriage

     Allah has informed us about the just
rights of each other on us:… the wife’s rights (with regard to their
husbands) are equal to the (husband’s) rights with regard to them, although men
are a degree above them; and Allah is Almighty, Wise. Qur’an 2: 228. The
statement that men are a degree above than women means that authority within
the household has been given to the husband in preference to the wife because a
heavier burden has been placed on his shoulders by another verse of the Quran
which says, Men shall take full care of women, because Allah has given the one
more strength than the other and because they support them from their means.
Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the
husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. Qur’an 4: 34

Dowry and Islam

         Most of the marriages are arranged in
the South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. There are lots
of rules and regulations before and after marriages. As for the arranged
marriages, the initial step is arranging a broker to find out appropriate bride
or groom. After the completion of this procedure the broker would play as an
intermediary between the two parties. Next step is prenuptial investigation.
Both parties would investigate each other (via relatives or neighbors) about
the family back ground, lineage and financial status. If both parties are
satisfied with the investigation, the next step would take place. If the boy
and girl liked each other, the final step prior to the confirmation would take
place. “that’s it..”Dowry”.

Let’s
take a look upon the common people. How they manage to make a large amount (as
for them) for dowry? They take severe struggles to give their daughters to
appropriate grooms. Many poor families even tend to suicide due to this
compulsory system if they have more than one girls to be married. Most of the
divorces in India take place on account of dowry. After marriage some sisters
would encounter severe harassments from husband or his family in terms of
dowry. In this case, the wife can complaint against everyone whoever
participated in this torture. As per the Indian Penal Code 498 A, the accused would be prosecuted with fine.
Although the dowry makes many problems, the political parties and feminist
organizations are keeping silence. Actually they don’t raise their voice
sincerely against the dowry system. They would only try to solve the individual
problems. Plenty of dowry based marriages are going on with Malabar Muslims.
Actually I don’t know in which era this system crept into Indian Muslims. One
who knows Islam and Quran will never support this kind of system which is
contrary to Islamic law and culture. “Allah” apparently explained
about dowry via “Quran”. Dowry is privilege of women (not
men). She deserves it out of her husband on marriage. “And give to the
women (whom you marry) their “Mahr”
(Obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of
marriage) with a good heart” Quran, Al Nisaa 4:4 “But if you
replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a cantar (of gold i.e.
a great amount) as “Mahr”, take not the least bit of it back; would
you take it wrong fully without a right and (with) a manifest sin? And how
could you take it (back) when you have gone in unto each other, and they have
taken from you a firm and strong covenant?” Al Nisaa 4:20-21.2.

Explanation:
If any one of you wants to divorce his wife and replace her with another, you
should not take anything from what you have already given the first wife, even
it was a huge amount of wealth. The “Mahr” is given in exchange for
the right to enjoy marital relations. It’s obvious out of the above verses that
women hold a prominent status in Islam. Dowry should be given to her on
marriage. It’s her right. But people follow just opposite irrespective to these
verses. Islam lets men to accept any gifts from bride or her family. But this
gift should not be dowry or upon any persuasions. He can only accept this gift
if they are providing it based on their own will. But people misinterpret it
(deliberately) and consider it as a compulsory dowry system. In fact men undervalue
the right of women. After receiving a huge amount as dowry from girl’s family,
he gives a bit from it to her as “Mahr” 2.

ANALYSIS OF DATA

From
Cradle to Grave  

Along
with cash and gold, the dowry includes cars, televisions, refrigerators and a
house – no matters whether or not the groom’s family already having them is
immaterial. And if the groom has a Government job, the dowry would include the
bribe for a “good posting” at the desirable station. In 1999, their number was 3886,  3739 in 2000 and 3191 in 2001. Some cases
ended in “suicide” and “accidental death” in police
parlance  but not at all. Taking into
account 1,774 “suicide” cases in 1999, which “came down” to
1,632 in 2001, and 3,378 “accidental deaths” in 1999, which declined
to 2,750 in 20014, it is clear that the problem of dowry continues to trouble
women. And it is certainly no coincidence that nearly 80 per cent of the
suicide cases and accidental deaths occurred in kitchens and the
daughters-in-law were the only victims4.
Education and prosperity have only increased the practice of dowry. And
prosperity has given rise to demands for costlier things. In fact, affluence is
responsible for the system, she argues. All rich land-lords started the
practice of giving riches to their daughters during marriage which slowly
became a tradition among all of the society. Dowry system seems to be common
amongst a section of Muslims too, though in the Shariah it is prohibited.
The better the groom’s educational qualifications, the higher the demand is the
dowry to make up for the “expense” incurred on his education. They
prefer to call it “voluntary” aid from the bride’s family though.
They name it the happiness of bride’s parents. Though, among tribes, the dowry
system works in the overturn direction – the groom’s family pays out money. Young housewife burnt alive for dowry by
his husband, Woman ends life due to dowry harassment, Woman killed for seeking
dowry 2&4.

Worst Drawbacks

          Dowry refers to a marriage practice
in our society where gifts of cash or other valuable items are exchanged
between the families of the bride & groom. Dowry is paid in the form of
cash, furniture, jewelry, property etc and it is paid before or during the
marriage ceremony, sometime after marriage. The custom of giving Dory has
changed it is now more essential part in good marriage and has taken a harmful
form. This is a social practice carried out both in urban and rural areas in
different manner according to the expectation.

Violence’s
related to Dowry:

Rape
& beating

Acid
throwing

Female
infanticide

Forced
suicide

Homicide
(as bride burring)

According
to researchers that dowry is the common cause to rise the domestic violence.
Laws & Implementation Strategies against Dowry Violence .

 

Conclusion

Best
education is the best dowry. Parents are advices to educate daughters the best
as the time has changed and it is time that education has more value in the
employment market and fields have been opened for women entrepreneurs. Amount
of dowry may be invested for her secured future. Girls parents should help
reporting government or related authorities about the dowry demand by groom
parents. Marriage with such boys should be discouraged as demand of excessive
dowry means they do not want girl but money this would result to extortion
after marriage by torture.  Beside are
arresting blacklisting in communities of dowry extorters most basics. Will help
not only to deject, will also help other girl parents to keep away from such
people.

Our
younger generation should come forward to rectify this trend and reform the
society. They should set an example by neither demanding nor offering dowry.
Those who demand dowry should be persuaded 
by explaining to then religious 
and quranic commands. If they still persist in their evil demands, they
should be socially boycotted and the matter reported to the police. Demanding
dowry is a legal offence also anti-dowry comities should be setup. This will
bring positive results for the unmarried daughters of the poor.

Suggestions

Dowry
is considered as an illegal act and giving and taking dowry are penalized.
Government should pass dowry prohibition rule violence against women and
children. government and NGOs should work together to fight dowry problem and
steps they should taken against dowry are:

o   Activity  against dowry

o   Creating
awareness

o   Educating
women about the legal right

o   Providing
legal assistance

o   Campaigns
against dowry 

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