We all have heard the word dowry; the forms may vary, but the idea behind this concept is the same, with a little variation in its form over the period.
A video went viral in which a woman called Sindhu Sharma, daughter-in-law of a retired judge of Madras high court Rama Mohan Rao, was beaten by him and his son in front of her children for dowry. After the video went viral, the retired judge was accused of putting pressure on his daughter-in-law not to utter even a single word against them.
It is tough to determine the exact number of cases and conviction rate because the victim of the threat gets from the accused side.
In India, there are nearly 8000 dowry-related deaths reported, and in even some cases, it is even worse.
Sex selection, early abortion, and female infanticides are also some of the reasons people don’t long for a girl child because the expenses related to a girl child are even more, and their marriage is something parents are concerned about more. And dowry adds to it with the inflation effect.
The amount of dowry directly relates to the family’s annual income as families with a girl child start saving more funds for her dowry. In the case of a boy, the family might have invested it in some business activities.
The case of dowry is not something new to Indian society or even for the world. In 1962, a Greek princess was given a dowry for her marriage. States or countries were also gifted as dowry in marriages. Still, due to economic development, dowry became less popular in Europe, but in India, it increased at an increasing rate.
Reasons for the increased rate
There are many theories related to dowry and its origination done by Indian as well as foreign researchers.
According to one of the researchers, dowry became popular because of the concept of KANYADAN OR STREE DHAN, where a Hindu family gives money to their daughter. As there were no legal and financial rights of a daughter on their father’s properties, therefore, to compensate and safeguard them financially, families tend to give some financial assistance to their daughter. But now it is for the groom’s side. Therefore it somewhere relates to GROOM PRICE CONCEPT.
Now, what is GROOMPRICE AND BRIDE PRICE?
Groom price is a concept where the amount of dowry given depends upon the market value of the groom. Now the market value covers many aspects like education, income, caste, etc.
The opposite of the groom’s price is the bride price, where the groom’s side pays to the bride’s side .this is mainly practices in parts of the northeast and Orissa’s part also.
Many activists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Satya Rani Chadha, and many more have tried their level best, but there are no changes in dowry cases. Despite many laws made on dowry still, we cannot decrease the rate of dowry, but why?
Let us try and understand the reasons via theories given by some researchers
The Indian sociologist M.N.Srinivas gave the theory of Sanskritisation, which says that it a process by which people belonging to lower castes try to improves their status by copying the practices of the upper class. According to him, dowry was practiced mainly by upper caste people, and slowly it got spread among the lower caste people.
However, this theory fails to explain the basis on which dowry is demanded.
This theory emphasises on economic development, which led to the increase in dowry in India, mainly because women were not supposed to go outside and work in Hindu society and contribute to economic activities.
This theory says that with economic development, most of the rights were concentrated in the hands of the groom’s side, but as slowly the progress took place, lower-class people too had money. Now even girls too can select or reject any proposal.
So economic development is the main reason for the increase in dowry cases in India.
However, this theory fails to explain people’s preferences while doing marriage apart from the economic development. For example, a groom with more qualification and wealth but belonging to some other caste and a groom comparatively less educated and skilled belonging to the same caste in which the bride’s family wants to get their daughter married will consider both the grooms same. People prefer to get married in the same caste.
Over some time, the development in education and economic status has forced the families to pay more and more dowry.
What is Groom Quality?
Investments in education played a vital role in improving the quality of the groom but not the quality of women. However, many females have gotten an education and done a lot for women’s empowerment and education. However, that was still not an easy task. Males with sophisticated degrees, education, and secured job positions have forced the families to ask for more dowry, and this is all because the men are in such a position to ask for it. However, if the quality of women had improved, the gap would have been less.
Here what matters is relativity.
According to Chiplunkar and Weaver’s theory, increasing the quality of women by educating them and awarding them with rights is the only solution to put a break over the increasing rate of dowry.
Now coming back to the solution as once the problem and root causes are identified, let’s understand the probable solution for the dowry problem.
- Why only education seems to be a solution?
The reason is self-explanatory. India has developed a lot in the field of education .more and more females are enrolled in different courses, but here the problem is they are educated, but they are not allowed to contribute to the GDP. They are working but not economically. Many cases have been seen where women had to leave the job due to family responsibilities because many people in the house do not want to do it. Also, there are many cases where families do not allow their female members to go outside and work. To sum up, all the reasons we can say that India’s female labor force is low.
- Society’s patriarchal approach
Many laws have been made on women’s safety and rights, but still, there is no change in the crime rate against them. One of the reasons is the approach and way of thinking society has for its female members. Despite many laws, the change can still be identified as not banning dowry is not going to change the whole scenario.
An increase in the quality of women in terms of promoting women’s education, women’s health, rural infrastructural developments, transport facilities, etc., can help a bit.
Even if the culprit is sent to jail, it will make the position of women even worse in society unless the people’s mindset is closed absolutely.
HOW THE GOVT. CAN HELP?
We have understood that only making laws won’t help. There is much more than law is required that is a change in the attitude of the people. The way society sees women as a part of the nation-building asset.
Society consists of many groups of people. The govt. can identify the key leaders of these groups and educate them. Make them aware of the positive change that would make the position of women in society better; this can help a lot.
Legality and Societal views have to go parallelly.
It does not matter how many rules or laws are made or supposed to be made, but how we see women as core members of society matters. That positive outlook matters a lot.