The Downside to Dowry

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The Dowry system in India was never intended to lead to the abuse of women. It was traditionally employed as a way of showing love to the daughter who was entering a new phase of her life as a married woman. It qualified her to become a full member of the new family system and she wasn't seen as a hindrance or drain on the new family's resources. It was only after British Colonial rule that this standard within Hinduism mutated into what it is today.

Agricultural farming people began to be taxed for their land and if they weren't able to pay, were forced into foreclosure, their livestock would starve, their plots would lay barren, and the families suffered. Dowry transformed over time into a source of income instead of how it was originally purposed as a substitute for inheritance. This change brought dread in the households that had daughters to marry off at a later date. There would be payments demanded over time, not just a one-time gift as the girls branched off into matrimony. This could take place for years on end and has lead to atrocious violence against women.

The middle class and the poor in India began to see spikes in violence against daughters in-law during the 20th century as the disparity between the rich and the poor grew larger due to the influence of capitalism. In fact, 90% of the violent cases of dowry harassment were from low-income families who couldn't keep up with the demand of the groom's family. Daughters have become undesired to say the least. There have been increased gender based abortions, infanticide, and much higher mortality rates for baby girls reported. Boys are afforded every opportunity in life including education which makes them sought after mates for women and families trying to jump castes. All of these things are perpetuating the idea that women are lower class and should be underprivileged, who because of Hinduism and the caste system, already had it hard and is still suffering today.