We should be aware of the hidden crimes taking place in our society and Dowry is one of them. It can be best defined as a kind of begging which a gluttonous people from groom side demands to the people from bride side on the cost of their son. Basic idea behind this ritual was to make the newly wedded couple comfortable with all the essential things that are required to start a new life. It is one among the many evils prevalent in our country. Dowry is still a major reason for unwanted issues related to family in our country. Sometimes, this evil becomes the root cause of chief form of social abuse, harassments, bride burning and in worst case scenario even leads to suicide by brides or her parents. Dowry – a ritual has been followed since the ancient time and now has become an affliction for the people who are not financially good enough.

In most of the cases it becomes a huge burden for the bride’s parents and forces them to sell their property or other expensive things to fulfill the demand made by the groom’s side just because they are parents of girl child. In India everyone is aware that demanding or giving dowry is a crime according to the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 but most of the people are still being part of this crime in disguise. The law says that anyone who demands dowry directly or indirectly, will face imprisonment for 6 to 24 months with the fine not less than 10000 rupees. There is a penalty for both the parties, if they give or take dowry, they will face imprisonment of minimum 5 years with the fine of 15000 rupees. Women are one of the most important assets of the society and are also active contributors in all round development of the nation. But several cases reveal that domestic violence still discourage women to edify their status in the society.

 Many government and non-government organization are working since many years to stop this evil but still could not get success. Thereby, we all should be united and take this issue as serious as any other issue in our life whether we have a girl child or not. Dowry is a common problem for the people of India which is hazardous for women. By the continuous struggle of many organizations, the ratio of this crime in India is falling but still could not be eradicated from the root. In the 21st century, women have challenged the patriarchal society and have proven that they are equal to men and can succeed in every field. But the dowry system favors the man’s family and is a big curse for women. In India, the criteria set for dowry system is that “the richer the family, the higher the dowry demands” means people who are financially well off ask for more money according to their status or according to their son’s qualification. From the bride’s side physical appearance matters, if bride is not beautiful her parents have to pay more money in dowry. Earlier marriage was not a liability, rather it was the event of peace and enjoyment. Male used to gift a present to a girl and never asked to return it. But today dowry amount and the gift exchange has led to depletion in the status of women in the society. The financial status of the bride family has no significance to the groom’s family.

Bride’s family try to fulfill all the demands of the groom’s side owing to the fact that losing a marriage proposal would deteriorate their status in the society. It is quite obvious to consider the cause for different social evils as the literacy rate of our country is 74.04%. Today people are left with no choice and have to meet the demand of groom’s family, which when not met leads to exploitation of women. Many of them are not aware of the laws which they may face while demanding for dowry. Women in India are victims of dowry system in our society. The dowry system is the primary reason behind the plight of the women. Demands are put forward shamelessly and are expected to be fulfilled with silence. When the demands are not met either the marriage is cancelled or the bride is exploited after the marriage.

Those who pay dowry in order to get girl married create great sense of gender inequality. Girls are not being sent to schools while their brother seeks higher education. Physical and behavioral restrictions are imposed on girls that are completely natural for boy’s .It is very hard to maintain high level of self-regard if you are women. A girl loses her self-esteem by believing that she is a burden on her family. Dowry system has imposed invisible chain upon the freedom and self-respect of the women. There is always an inferior attitude towards women which pains her heart badly. Dowry is not like once given then people from groom side will not ask for other things, they will continue to demand till the end because husband’s family consider girl’s family as a never ending source of finance. If the needs are not met by the girl’s family, it often leads to continuous physical and mental torture and instigates women to go into depression and commit suicide. The deaths associated with dowry demands become the part of domestic violence. Survivors of dowry related violence often require similar services as survivors of domestic violence. These women require transport, shelter, emergency services, support program and legal assistance. Inter-caste and inter-religion marriage should be encouraged in our society so that the girl and a boy can find suitable partner for marriage. It is the easiest way for girls to get out of the ruthless circle of dowry system. However it’s not easy but we are the only one to bring changes in our society.

The eradication of dowry practice will create better and healthier society for all. Education is also necessary for all as it will help us to understand things better and this will also encourage us to take an action against those who demand for dowry. Lack of education leads to irresponsible decisions leading to financial exploitation from marriage relations. Creating awareness against the evil of dowry system is the first step towards eradicating the practice. Campaigns should be designed to spread knowledge about the legal provision against dowry. Well government can only make rules, it depends upon the society to follow it or not. Stopping dowry is something which cannot be achieved by government alone. The government must enact and enforce stringent laws prohibiting the evil practice of dowry in any of its form. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed on 20th may 1961 with an aim to destroy the evil practice from the society. Demanding for dowry is punishable with the imprisonment of 5 years and fine upto15000 rupees. Under the section 113A added in the Indian evidence Act further provides the family of the bride to charge the husbands family of assisting suicide of their daughter within the 7 years from the date of marriage.

Dowry system has been the part of the society since the pre historic time. The government has made legislation to limit the dowry exchange. However less people seems to be interested in knowing laws and legislation. Government alone cannot develop a nation, we should also take a step forward. “When there is unity there is always victory”. So we need to work hand in hand to eradicate dowry system for our society. Women need real social, political, financial and moral support in their fights against the system. They have to be empowered so that they can take their decision about their own life by refusing the dowry system. This system should be banned by law. All the girls and boys should avoid this system when they get married. At any cost this system should be wiped out of our society. This evil can be eliminated only through social awaking and reforms. It should be imbibed in the minds of people that to give and to take dowry is a crime.

(Originally Published in ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad official magazine ‘The Student’. Published here with all permissions.)


Harshit Mishra has authored the following blog, he is pursuing his BBA-LLB (HONS) at ILS Hyderabad. He is interested in travelling, writing, reading and debating and elocutions. He also enjoys listening to music and watching movies



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