Dowry is a major issue in this region

Bride burning, suicides, physical and mental torture

The dowry system today is a huge problem in the South Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. In India dowry (Dahej) is the practice where the bride brings in huge amounts of cash, property, jewellery, furniture, expensive gifts, electrical appliances or even a car and other household items that facilitate the newly-weds set up her husband’s house. Legally, dowry is a banned practice in India but is still practiced indirectly. The dowry system puts big financial pressure on the bride's family.

In India, giving away a daughter in marriage is called 'Kanyadan' it is an essential part of Hindu marital rites, where 'Kanya' means the daughter and 'daan' means gift.

All parents have love and affection towards their daughters, and they blindly promise good amount of dowry. Even after marriage, some brides are tortured to bring in more and more dowry from their parents' home. But some parents are not financially strong and they cannot satisfy the ever-increasing expectations, as a result the treatment of their daughter at the guy’s home gets quite bad. She may get harassed and tortured everyday for dowry, in many instances a even wife commits suicide, murdered, burnt and finally killed by her husband or in-laws.

As per written and reported in Wikipedia, 8,391 dowry deaths were reported in India in 2010. Dowry deaths number in the hundreds each year in Delhi alone, according to official government statistics; statistics compiled by women's rights groups are higher. Women's rights groups estimate the annual dowry murder rate in Delhi to be around 900 per year, having increased from around 300 per year during the 1990s.

A "dowry killing" occurs when a new wife is murdered by her husband or in-laws if they are unhappy with her, rather than sending her back to her parents, which would force the in-laws to return the dowry to the bride's parents. Statistics in India show that 90% of such murdered brides were educated, 30% were graduates, and 20% were women who worked outside the home and contributed to the family financially.

As per the survey conducted by ‘India Today’ magazine, over 90% of Government Servants aggressively seek and get dowry in marriage. It is a common element for unmarried government servants to seek dowry according to the market rates ‘befitting their position’. These rates are sky-high, with an approximate of dowry rates for a bachelor IAS Officer (Indian Administrative Services) being as high as Rs 50 Lac to Rs 5 Crore (up to USD 1 Million). These high rates are one of the major reasons for corruption as young IAS officers after marriage are forced to take bribes to maintain their new lifestyle and match the financial status of their wealthy in-laws.

Dowry law in India

In India, the payment of a dowry was Prohibited Act in 1961 under Indian Civil Law and pursued by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Individuals accused of taking dowry can be sent to jail for 6 months to 3 years. This includes husband, Father-In-Law, Mother-In-Law or any other relatives or non-relatives found guilty. It can also include fine. But if a murder is committed then there is at least a 7 year fine or life in prison, plus fine. Other laws attempting to address the problem include the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restrictions Rules, 1976 and the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985.

Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs. 15000 or the amount of dowry whichever is higher and imprisonment up to 5 years. It replaces several pieces of anti-dowry legislations that had been enacted by various Indian states.

Today, when a girl child is born, the main thinking is, the parent has to save their financial and other resources for dowry to get her married off. The greatest wealth a parent can give to a girl is her education. Let us educate our girls and let them stand on their own feet, encouraging her to pursue a career of her choice is the best ‘dowry’ any parent can ever give their daughter.

We severely against this practice of ‘dowry’ all of us should join hands and remove this social evil from our society.

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