Every marriage has a story to recall. Every parent has dreams of a grand wedding for their children and always hopes for their betterment. In India, marriages are made in heaven. Every bride will find her best man and vice versa. However, the tradition of marriage also brings along exchanges of gifts and showering blessings.
In modern India, dowry is very easily replaced by gifts for the son-in-law. The only prospect of these gifts is a bribe to the groom’s family, hoping their daughter lives a happy life. The value of the gifts is equal to the value of your daughter’s being in a family?
Dowry is one such term that has been prevalent and most common in Indian households. It is a practice since ages, more of a ritual that plays an important role in every marriage, eroding the beautiful institution of marriage and binding two individuals with a mind-set of “drawing gifts” for a successful and happy married life.
It is reduced to a large extent, yet not eradicated from our society. However, let’s dive into the laws designed for dowry and its adverse effects on society.
According to section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961, the term “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly to either of the family. Usually, this ritual is followed by the daughter’s family, giving valuables along with their valuable daughter at the time of marriage.
By one party to the other party during or after the marriage,
By the parent or any other person of either party to a marriage at or before [or any time after the marriage]. However, Dower or Mehr doesn’t apply to the law for Muslim Personal Law (Shariat).
According to section 3 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, of 1961, it is an offensive act to offer or take dowry in any form. In other words, the groom’s family is liable for taking dowry so would the family of the bride consent to give dowry.
Read up on the legal framework in India for prohibiting Dowry:
According to the act, if any person gives or takes dowry after the commencement of the act, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than five years and with a fine not less than fifteen thousand rupees or value of dowry, whichever is more.
As per section 4, if any person directly or indirectly demands dowry from parents, relatives, or guardians of the bride or the groom, can be punished with imprisonment for minimum 6 months, which can be extended to 2 years, and a fine that may extend to ten thousand rupees.
According to section 4-A, any advertisement in a newspaper, journal, or through any medium, asking for a share in property or business or money, etc, by any person in consideration of marriage shall be punished with imprisonment for at least 6 months (which may extend for 5 years) and fine which may extend to fifteen thousand rupees.
According to section 7, a judge not below the rank of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate of First Class shall try an offense under this Act. The court shall take cognizance of the offense based on the report filed by the victim, parents, and relatives of the victim. Also includes a police report or its knowledge of the facts of the offense.
According to section 8, certain offenses under this Act shall be cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
When a death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that before her death she faced cruelty or harsh treatment by her husband or in-house members, or in connection with, demands of dowry such death are named as “Dowry Death” and such husband or relatives are deemed to have caused her death.
Imprisonment not less than 7 years, which may extend to lifetime imprisonment.
If the husband or a relative of the husband is subjected to cruelty to the woman, are subjected to be punished.
Three years of imprisonment and liable to fine.
There should be a strong wilful reason for a woman to take such a deep decision. If dowry harassment leads to committing suicide or causes grave injuries or creates a danger to life, limb, or health, which includes mental and physical health comes under the definition of cruelty.
Or, Harassing a woman to coerce her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand, including property, money, or valuable security, or is on account of failure by the bride or any family member related to her fails to meet such demands.
There is always a question unanswered. How does the law decide if the death is a dowry death?
As per the law, if the woman is subjected to any kind of cruelty or harassment for or in connection with dowry or demands, the court will presume that such person had caused the dowry death.
Marriage is a beautiful institution of two souls meeting and spending their lives together, is now merely a contract of taking and giving valuables and money in the name of marriage. However, there are some social evils that the practice of dowry brings it along.
There are so many laws prohibiting female foeticide yet the statistics remain the same or much more than anyone’s expectations. The main reason behind this practice is when a female child is born, she would be a burden to the family, and expenses would gradually increase with her education and marriage. Thus, society believes in eradicating the root problem “Female Child”.
There are situations when parents are not able to marry their daughters due to the high demands of dowry, which in turn brings shame and harassment to the family. To save themselves and their family from mental harassment and embarrassing situations, these girls decide to end their lives, hoping the issue ends with them.
It is believed that girls don’t need education because they are going to get married, settle with their families, and bear kids. They also believe that spending the money on education can be saved up, and can be used for dowry. However, society needs to understand that an educated lady can stand up for herself, amidst the harassment and break the patriarchy. .
Other than education, there is a list of discrimination and mental harassment happening at their end with regards to dark skin, healthy body, or lack of physically appealing appearance. Parents or relatives believe that when the bride is not good-looking or appealing, a heavy dowry needs to be paid and their constant taunts by the groom’s parents and relatives can cause mental trauma, adding low self-esteem and inferiority complex in them.
However, Dowry as a ritual is not eradicated from our systems. It’s only upgraded by different terms and perceptions. It can be removed only when society decides to clean the mess. Education plays an important role, however, it is noticed how educated boys and girls are indulged in exchanging expensive gifts. They may deny the term dowry, but it is another form of evil practice. Parents believe that their daughter will be happy only if they gift her in-laws with expensive cars and valuables adding happiness. But they forget to realize how beautifully they are carrying forward the tradition which is now illegal.
I’m Safe App hopes and wishes such cruelty to end, and education to play its role, making this generation realize and understand how wrong it is to ask/ give dowry in the name of expensive gifts. Materialistic love doesn’t last for long. A man’s greed will never end. And expectations can never be denied. Take a step towards stopping the modern dowry system and stand up for what is right because when you do, you are setting an example. I’m Safe app hopes the practice is eradicated from its root, however, the period seems to be a far cry.