"Dowry" refers to money, goods or property that a woman brings into the marriage - it is paid by the woman's family to the man's family. Dowry is practiced mainly in South Asian countries, such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka. According to Goody (quoted by Ranjana Kumari 1989, p3), “Dowry can be seen as a type of pre-mortem inheritance to the bride”. Thambiah defines Dowry as “Wealth given to a daughter at her marriage for the couple to use as the nucleus of their conjugal estate, by and large we can say that dowry in India and Ceylon (Srilanka) the notion of female property (Streedhanam) which technically is her property and in her own control though the husband usually has rights of management”. (Quoted by Kumari 1982, p3) A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to a marriage. Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it. Dowries continue to be expected in some parts of the world, mainly South Asia. There are several possible functions for a dowry system. One function of a dowry may be to provide the husband with "seed money" or property for the establishment of a new household and to help feed and protect the family. Another may be to provide the wife and children with some support if he were to die. Another function of the dowry may be as compensation for bride price. This may be the case in cultures where the dowry and bride price are both customary. Many authors believe that the giving and receiving of dowry reflects social status and even the effort to climb higher in a social hierarchy. A dowry may also have served as a form of protection for the wife against the possibility of ill treatment by her husband and his family, providing an incentive for the husband not to harm his wife. This would apply in cultures where a dowry was expected to be returned to the bride's family if she died soon after marrying. In Nepal, the Social Ceremonies (Reform) Act, 1976 has put a ceiling on the amount of bride wealth that can be given to the bride by her parents. According to section 5, sub-section 2, the amount allowed is Rs. 10,000 plus one set of gold ornaments. This amount permitted by laws is quite generous in the opinion of many which most of the rural population can afford. Bennet (1979) suggested that the daijo gifts should be registered with appropriate local officials for two reasons. First, it would prevent women from losing their property and secondly, it would check exorbitant dowries. However, knowledgeable people have objected to this suggestion and consider registration of daijo as impossible. According to the Social Ceremonies (Reform) Act 1976: 470 Section 5 Restriction Dowry Sub-section 1, any negotiation between two families over the amount of daijo is prohibited. It runs as follows, "The bridegroom's side shall not compel the bride's side to offer any specific amount in cash or in kind as dowry, donation or gift or farewell gift in any form to the bridegroom nor shall the two sides settle in advance the amount to be gifted. The bridegroom's side shall not cause any harassment or refuse to solemnize the marriage, or if the marriage has already been solemnized refuse to take the bride formally, or in the case of persons among whom it is customary to take away the bride formally only after sometime, refuse to have the farewell rituals solemnized and take away the bride on the grounds that no dowry has been paid". Obviously, the concept of daijo as the bride's exclusive property is evident. The practice of dowry being pained to grooms with commitment risk of extortion and dowry death, it is made spread in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and has begun in Nepal (UNICEF, 1999). The expected value of the dowry has risen in some cultures in recent decades. This phenomenon has led to a sharp increase in "dowry deaths" since the 1980s. A "dowry...
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