Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Family, Law, Social Issues, India, Crime, Violence, In-Laws

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/28

Dowry is one of the most common and undesirable practices in India, which not only wrenches the families into debt, but also results in several deaths. It is one of the indigenous, woman-centered institutions in a patriarchal and agrarian Indian society. In India, dowry refers to the gifts presented to the groom and him family by the bride’s family during the time of marriage. It also covers the marriage expenses and household goods offered to the newly-wed couple. The items offered in the dowry include jewelry, cash, property, household goods . The groom’s family expects gifts from the bride on various occasions, particularly, when the bride moves to the residence of the in-laws after the marriage. The dowry offered by the bride’s family acts not only as an additional income to the new couple, but also to the extended family of the groom. Families belonging to every religious, economic and social background in India are showing interest in dowry as it is a means to escape from poverty and acquire modern conveniences, which they could not afford otherwise.
Initially, the practice of dowry intended providing help for daughters. It served as a safety net for unforeseen misfortune in the groom’s family. Traditionally, the daughters were exclusion to the real property inheritance and could inherit only movable goods. Thus, the material interests of the in-laws were also absent from the transaction. The Indian patriarchy system allows the daughters to stay with their parents only until they get married to their husbands. However, once the daughter enters the husband’s house after the marriage, the in-laws become her caretaker and demand heavy payment from the bride’s family considering the bride as a burden with no future payoff . Most of the parents feel that a non-dowry marriage would lower the status of their family among the relatives and prove their son worthless. In order to meet the demands of the groom’s family, the bride’s parents sell their property for the welfare of their daughter, which otherwise would lead to violence, torture and harassment.
In some families, the bride’s parents are ready to pay for the dowry to ensure a good marriage for their daughter. The demand for dowry has become a lever for squeezing money and goods from the bride’s family years after the wedding. If the bride’s family does not comply, the in-laws subject the woman to cruelty, physical abuse and ultimately death. The number of dowry deaths is increasing on an alarming note in India. A dowry death refers to the murder of a woman by setting her on fire by her husbands or in-laws for the sole purpose of keeping the dowry, which the woman had brought after marriage . By murdering the wife, the husband can remarry and obtain another dowry. The most common form of dowry murder involves pouring kerosene on a woman and setting her on fire or turning on the gas stove and leaving the woman alone at home in order to mask the murder as an accident.
Although the desire to break from poverty and emulate the upper castes explains the reason for the practice of dowry murders among the lower classes, it is sad to know that even the highly educated and affluent families demand higher dowry and engage in the crime of the bride. In the upper classes, dowry serves the purpose of preserving the higher status of the groom’s family by selecting a bride who can afford to meet the demands. However, in the lower and middle classes, dowry serves the purpose of enhancing the economic status of the groom’s family . Although women escape from the murders due to dowry, they cannot escape from their husbands. On the other hand, a woman accusing her husband and in-laws of attempted murder for the sake of dowry might face tremendous danger during the long interval of court proceedings for which India is famous. When a woman survives, she does not reveal the crime of her husband and in-laws in the fear of retribution.
In spite of all the evidences, which show that the act was intentional, the police take the word of the woman for granted and consider the act as an accident. As a result, few survivors deny the crime of their in-laws. Furthermore, in Indian community, it is not socially acceptable for a married woman to live with her parents, and thus, she often returns to her husband and in-laws . It is also rare to find law officials who refuse bribes and successfully prosecute the criminals of dowry, which forces the woman to keep silence. The dowry system in India is the sole reason for two other practices leading to female infanticide, which include neglect of the female infants and selective abortion of female fetuses. Dowry is also the causal force behind gendered crimes in India. It is one of the major reasons for suicides among women; however, in most of the cases, the police are unable to punish the offenders involved in the crime due to lack of evidence as well as negligence.
Even though the Prohibition of the Dowry Act of 1961 imprisons the offenders for giving and taking dowry, it discourages the bride’s family to report the murder of their daughter in the fear of prosecution for giving dowry in the first place. The ban on dowry has little meaning for the vast majority of people who never considered the custom as a serious friction. In an increasingly masculine society, such as India, dowry is the foundation, which gives an explanation of discrimination against women. Dowry underpins the relationship among marriage, gender and property. In some families, in the absence of demands from the groom’s family, dowry is a purely voluntary and comfortable institution within the means of the bride’s family. It serves as an index for appreciation of the bride and her family, both at her natal as well as the conjugal village. Beliefs and notions of Indian families towards dowry have deep roots and most of them consider giving and taking dowry as a normal scenario.
The impact of legal culture in India provides an impulse for the abuse or avoidance of the laws meant to punish the individuals involves in the crime of dowry. The three dimensions to the legal culture of the dowry system in India are the legal structure of the community, the moral principles followed in the society and the actors within the legal and social system. In the absence of a proper interrogation of the actual and perceived values, which the law presumes to protect, laws have become impotent against certain forms of abuse, such as dowry . Dowry has also created the Indian male as a dominant legal subject. It became vulnerable to the new market economy, which abruptly replaced the traditional order of obligations and privileges. In the recent times, dowry has become the price of the bride, which is a marker of the evaluation of women in the communities, which practice it. In 1985, the amendments made to the Dowry Prohibition Act framed certain rules, which list the presents that a bride or bridegroom can offer to each other.
The position of women in the Indian society has improved to a great extent with the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 . The legislature aims at resolving matrimonial disputes, which make the women vulnerable and victims to domestic violence for dowry or any kind of abuse. The Act is extremely helpful for women because it not only applies to women in live-in relationship, but also extends to other women in the household. It punishes offenders, including husband, in-laws and relatives for harassing women by unlawful dowry demands. The act also prevents the abusers from committing any acts of domestic violence, violence in the workplace and violence in the public. On the other hand, women enjoy various special privileges in the Indian society. The government offers reservation for women in elections. It also provides special incentives for female entrepreneurs. Women also enjoy special tax concessions and facilities in buses and railway coaches . The Indian government also reserves a specific number of seats for women in colleges and universities. In the case of divorce, women have a greater chance of availing the custody of the children as the rules are strict for men.

Works Cited

Nelasco, Shobana. Status of Women in India. New Delhi, India: Deep and Deep Publications, 2010.
Penn, Michael L. and Rahel Nardos. Overcoming Violence Against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
Sharma, Vinay. Dowry Deaths: Legal Provisions and Judicial Interpretation. New Delhi, India: Deep and Deep Publications, 2007.

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WePapers. (2021, February, 28) Free Dowry In India Essay Sample. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-dowry-in-india-essay-sample/
"Free Dowry In India Essay Sample." WePapers, 28 Feb. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-dowry-in-india-essay-sample/. Accessed 17 August 2022.
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"Free Dowry In India Essay Sample." WePapers, Feb 28, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-dowry-in-india-essay-sample/
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"Free Dowry In India Essay Sample," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 28-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-dowry-in-india-essay-sample/. [Accessed: 17-Aug-2022].
Free Dowry In India Essay Sample. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-dowry-in-india-essay-sample/. Published Feb 28, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022.

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