DOWRY PRACTISE IN INDIA
The practice of giving dowry is common in our country. Dowry is the money or gifts given to a daughter by her parents at the time of her marriage. Unfortunately, this has become a social problem. The family of the boy demands large sums of money from the girl’s parents. For this reason the birth of a daughter is considered a curse in our society. She is considered as a financial burden on the family. The boy’s family considers it as their right to make demands and a lot of unpleasantness is caused at the time of marriage. Sometimes people even refuse to go through with the marriage if they feel they are not getting enough money. The girl is very often tortured by the husband and his family for bringing insufficient dowry. Sometimes they are compelled to commit suicide to escape ill-treatment. Worse still, people even resort to murder to do away with a bride who has not brought enough dowries. Dowry deaths have become a very serious problem in our society. Various legislative safeguards have been introduced over the past fifteen years to combat this problem. But the tragic truth is, that marital and domestic violence including dowry deaths have continued to grow and spread. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961 but it has not been effectively implemented. It was further amended in 1986. Under this law, a person who is convicted can be imprisoned for five years and fined up to fifteen thousand rupees. But laws alone cannot help to control the menace of dowry deaths. Social awareness, especially amongst young men, needs to be developed through public campaigns. The education and economic independence of women also needs to be encouraged so that their parents do not feel compelled to marry them to dowry seeker
According to an article in Time magazine, deaths in India related to dowry demands have increase 15-fold since the mid-1980s from 400 a year to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s. Some commentators claim that the rising number simply indicates that more cases are being reported as a result of increased activity of women’s organisations. Others, however, insist that the incidence of dowry-related deaths has increased. An accurate picture is difficult to obtain, as statistics are varied and contradictory. In 1995, the National Crime Bureau of the Government of India reported about 6,000 dowry deaths every year. A more recent police report stated that dowry deaths had risen by 170 percent in the decade to 1997. All of these official figures are considered to be gross understatements of the real situation. Unofficial estimates cited in a 1999 article by Himendra Thakur “Are our sisters and daughters for sale?” put the number of deaths at 25,000 women a year, with many more left maimed and scarred as a result of attempts on their lives. Some of the reasons for the under-reporting are obvious. As in other countries, women are reluctant to report threats and abuse to the police for fear of retaliation against themselves and their families. But in India there is an added disincentive. Any attempt to seek police involvement in disputes over dowry transactions may result in members of the woman’s own family being subject to criminal proceedings and potentially imprisoned. Moreover, police action is unlikely to stop the demands for dowry payments. The anti-dowry laws in India were enacted in 1961 but both parties to the dowry—the families of the husband and wife—are criminalised. The laws themselves have done nothing to halt dowry transactions and the violence that is often associated with them. Police and the courts are notorious for turning a blind eye to cases of violence against women and dowry associated deaths. It was not until 1983 that domestic violence became punishable by law. Many of the victims are burnt to death—they are doused in kerosene and set light to. Routinely the in-laws claim that what happened was simply an accident. The kerosene stoves used in many poorer...
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