Dowry is an ancient custom. Dowry is the amount of money paid by the bride’s family to the groom’s family. Dowry can also be given in the form of property, goods, and gifts. The dowry system can put a financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, the dowry system leads to crimes against women, which varies from the mental torture and physical abuse to even deaths. Dowry deaths are unnatural deaths of the newly married women who are forced to commit suicide by constant molestation and mental torture by the in-laws. Sometimes, the woman gets murdered by the in-laws as her family couldn’t afford the amount of money, property, goods, or gifts asked by the groom’s family as a dowry. In dowry death, women get killed by marital rape, bride burning, downtrodden, bride hanging, physical and mental abuse, and also acid throwing. And sometimes due to domestic violence, mental torture, and constant harassment by their husband and in-laws, the women are forced to commit suicide and permanently end their lives.
DOWRY CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN
Dowry is a source of joy and happiness for the groom and his family. But on the other hand, it is a big curse to the bride and her family who have to bear the enormous cost to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the grooms family. Dowry death and related offences are a burning issue of society. It is mostly seen in our country, India, for years. The unnatural death of newly married women due to dowry has become a constant headline in most newspapers and news channels. Dowry deaths are increasing day by day in our society due to lack of education, tradition and customs, greediness of the groom’s family, religious factors, and also economic factors. The Dowry system is not only limited to a particular religion or region. The practice of dowry can also be seen in other religions and regions. Women have to go through a lot because of this unethical and illegal system of dowry. Women are said to be the backbone of a family and also society. They build families and bring life into society and killing or continuously abusing them just for money, gifts, gold, and property is a shameful act in itself. The evil of the dowry system is a matter of serious concern as it is increasing day by day in our society.
Dowry’s death is one of the most heinous crimes against women. Dowry is considered a major contributor to violence against women. They are pre-planned offences that get committed within the four walls of her own house by the in-law’s family. The victims often face cruelty, domestic violence. Most of the victims die on the spot and those who survive, hesitate to make a statement against their in-law’s family before the police or courts either due to fear of lack of support from the society, or they are threatened by the in-laws to not to give statements against them. Therefore, they mostly end up their lives by committing suicide because they can’t bear the endless mental and physical pain caused by their in-laws. Few women are even murdered in their own house. In this modern era also, the practice of dowry still exists. It is a harsh reality that till now the women are ill-treated in this patriarchal society. The women face all these mental and physical tortures alone. It is really painful to even think how much a woman has to go through in her married life just for her in-law’s greediness.
Marriage is always considered the purest way to unite two souls without any terms and conditions. But the demand for dowry is making the purest tradition of uniting two souls, a curse. At the time of marriage, the groom promises to protect her wife from every evil eye, but unfortunately, he becomes evil. The bride’s trust and respect for her husband get broken into millions of pieces. The family which promised the newly married woman to keep her in their house with love and respect are the only ones who are harassing, abusing, disrespecting her, and treating her like a slave. Hence, her dream of having a new happy family gets ended. Her dignity and pride get robbed by her husband. At the same time, she becomes a victim of cruelty by her in-law family members. However, her pain does not end here, the continuous cruelty and torture force her to end her life. Sometimes, by hanging or poisoning herself so that she can get rid of the physical and mental pain caused by her husband and in-laws. This type of domestic violence goes beyond the boundaries of caste, class, colour, race, region, or religion and is mostly practised everywhere in our society.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF DOWRY DEATHS IN INDIA:
The statistical study makes an in-depth review of the dowry system in India and analyses the reasons behind it. India reports the highest total number of deaths relating to dowry with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, which means there are 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women. About 40 to 50 per cent of all female homicides were recorded in India, representing a constant practice of this illegal system over the period 1999 to 2016. Recent statistics of 2020, highlights the increase in the number of dowry deaths during the lockdown when people were staying in their homes when about 10,366 cases were registered. The crime rate per 100,000 women in 2020 stood at 1.6. This statistic shows the amount of domestic violence a woman faces in her own house for not bringing enough gold, money or gifts from her parent’s house as dowry.
The cruelty of such an offence has no limits. Not only in rural areas, even in urban areas practice of dowry is still in practice. This shows the amount of greediness a person can have for some tangible wealth. This greediness makes them evil criminals. It is shameful to even think that women who bring a new life into this world which is a gift from nature to mankind are being killed just because the bride’s family couldn’t fulfil the demand of dowry from the groom’s family. Even slogans like “No Dowry, No Marriage” are often heard from the groom’s side as they think that dowry is their so-called “Right” according to the traditions and customs which are practised for ages.
Dowry is a social curse in society. Dowry has caused unimaginable crimes and torture towards women in society. This illegal practice of dowry still exists in both the rural and urban areas in our society. Despite making so many laws, amendments, and provisions, like for example: “The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961”; “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005”, the practice of dowry is still seen, it is not abolished from the society. No matter how many laws the government makes, it still can’t eradicate them from society because of society’s backward mentality. This illegal system can only be abolished when the evil-minded mentality of this patriarchal society is abolished. To fully eradicate it, society has to understand that it is illegal and unethical. By making laws this system can’t put a full stop to it. Social awareness about the laws made by the government and also proper education about this topic to the society may help us to stop the practice of dowry. Even the woman who is facing torture and abuse from the in-laws should speak up without any fear of not getting alternative support or getting threatening from the in-laws. Abolishing the practise of the dowry system will get a small start if women from every household who are facing cruelty, torture, and domestic violence because of dowry in their own houses, start speaking up against their husbands or in-laws, no one can stop us to eliminate this wrongdoing from the society. Every small step makes a big difference. So, every small step by a fearless woman can make a big difference not only for themselves but also for others who fear speaking up. Also, the bride’s family should not encourage the practice of dowry. Also, they should not bow down and agree to every demand of the groom’s family which is morally and legally wrong. The proper execution of the laws and support from society together can solve this burning issue. The youth should take the responsibility of eliminating the dowry system from society. To live in a happy marriage and happy society, one must say “NO” to dowry because, In India, marriage is one of the purest ways to unite two souls and also a mutual relation not only between the bride and the groom but also between their families. Marriage unites families. Dowry can only break happy families. So, the Dowry System should be eradicated from society.
Author(s) Name: Archita Sengupta (St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata)