Marriage or marketplace: Insights into the dowry system in India

This article is about a marketplace, where grooms are sold to brides’ families and the price of the groom in this marketplace depends on a lot of factors such as the groom’s education, the bride’s skin tone, religion, caste, sub-caste, etc. These deals in this marketplace are named as “Marriages”. Don’t think that this word is related to the “marriages” you’ve heard of; they just share the same spelling. For many people, marriage is a further step in their relationships to strengthen the bond of love, trust, and care; but on the contrary marriage in this marketplace is simply a deal fueled by greed which further causes domestic violence, depression, and deaths. Unfortunately, this marketplace exists all across India except in some eastern states. A simple exchange of dowry and bride shouldn’t be termed as marriage, but that is exactly what marriages in India imply. The dowry system has a huge negative impact on our society. Although the situation is changing but still in some regions of India when a boy is born, people celebrate it. But when a girl is born the burden of dowry overshadows the happiness, right from her birth. One of the main reasons for female foeticides in India is the fear of dowry. Some parents don’t invest in their daughters’ higher education because the economic burden of dowry does not let them do so.

In India, there is a lot of pressure on girls’ parents for a lavish wedding. To ensure that their daughter finds a home, many parents sell their houses. There have been suicides reported in many families because the debts that were taken for the dowry of daughter’s marriage could not be paid. The obsession with lavish weddings has ruined a lot of families.
It is heart-wrenching that every day around 21 women die in India, because of dowry. These are reported deaths; a lot of cases are not even reported. The Indian National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that there were 8,331 dowry death cases registered in India in 2011. The greed for money by the groom and his family doesn’t just stop with the wedding. A lot of grooms’ families torture and harass the bride for money even after the wedding. This torture, harassment, and humiliating behaviour from the husband’s family lead a newly-married woman to end her life. 

After knowing about all this, a question arises “What is the solution?” Many communities have set an example to stop dowry. One of them is Tanzeem Khuddam E Millat, an organization from Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh. This organization started in 2011 when some people came together to find a solution to this issue. So, what they came up with as a solution was that in their community everyone would have a very simple wedding with “No Band, No Baaja, No Baraat.” No matter whether you are rich or middle class, every wedding will occur with simplicity and no additional expenses. So, one of the solutions is “Simple is beautiful.” But of course, a lot of people have their wish lists for their marriage. For this, the bride and groom should equally contribute to the expenses of the wedding. 

Other than that, whenever someone demands dowry, take a stand and complaint against it. Accepting or giving dowry is an illegal and punishable offence. Under the dowry prohibition act, 1961 even demanding dowry is a punishable offence. 

To bring a change in our society against this social evil “Dowry”, it is very important to teach the men of our society on becoming capable enough to fulfil their dreams on their own rather than depending on a girl’s family and it is equally important to teach the girls about their self-respect, equality, and justice.

Written By- Arjita Singh

Sources referred: 

https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/dowry-deaths-national-crime-records-bureau-conviction-rate-972874-2017-04-22

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry_death#:~:text=Dowry%20deaths%20are%20deaths%20of,place%20for%20them%20to%20be.

http://www.satyamevjayate.in/big-fat-indian-wedding/simple-is-beautiful.aspx

https://wcd.nic.in/act/dowry-prohibition-act-1961

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