The dowry system refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the groom, his parents and his relatives as a condition of the marriage.

Dowry system was introduced in England in the 12th century by the Normans. Earlier to this there was another kind of practice where husband gave some kind of morning gift to his wife. Dowry was generally given at the wedding by the husband at the church door in front of all present public. In India, it has it’s roots in the medieval times when a gift in cash or kind was given to a bride by her father to maintain her independence after her marriage. During colonial period, it became the only legal way to get married, with the British making the practice of dowry mandatory.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

Dowry Prohibition Act, enacted on May 1, 1961, states to prevent the giving and receiving of a dowry. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry includes property, goods or money given by either party to the marriage, by the parents of either party or by anyone else in connection with the marriage. This act was passed to put an end to the receiving and giving of an evil practice.

Dowry cases in India

India has the highest number of dowry related deaths in the world according to India National Crime Record Bureau. In 2012, 8,233 dowry death cases were reported across India. This means a bride was burned every 90 minutes, or dowry case issues cause 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India. Number of reported dowry death cases in India 2005-2019 – In 2019,reported dowry death cases in India amounted to more than 7.1 thousand. This was a gradual decrease from the 2014, in which this was approximately 8.5 thousand. According to World Bank Blog in India the highest dowry system practice is in Kerala. Since 1970 Kerala exhibits stark and persistent dowry inflation and had the highest average dowry in recent years, similar inflationary trends are seen across Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat.

Bad Effects of Dowry

  • Dowry leads to harassing a women.
  • Women are ill-treated, disrespected, tortured and are subjected to sorts of cruelties in the name of dowry.
  • Women are killed or murdered.
  • Women are abused.
  • Dowries maintain gender inequality.
  • Dowries keep women from economic independence.
  • Dowries trap poor people in debt.
  • Dowries discriminate against the disabled.

Dowry is a social evil in the society, that has caused unimaginable tortures and crimes towards women. The evil has taken lives of many women from all types of society be it poor, middle class or the rich. However it is the poor who succumb and fall prey to it, more due to their lack of awareness and education.

Causes of dowry system in India

  • Greed – The expectation that a dowry will be given at the time of the bride and groom’s engagement is to compensate for the groom’s education, career, and wealth. The bride’s education, career and wealth are completely disregarded, as she is not given equal societal status to a man.
  • Lack of education – The bride’s family, unaware and un-knowledgeable of the laws, face outrageous financial ultimatums, which when not met, lead to mistreatment of their daughters.

Important Steps to eradicate dowry

  • Educate your daughters.
  • Encourage them to have their own career.
  • Teach them to be independent and responsible.
  • Treat them equally without any discrimination.
  • Do not encourage the practice of giving or taking dowry.