India suffers from many social evils and superstitions. Dowry system is one of these great evils. Dowry is given in cash and kind to a daughter during her marriage. This evil is found and practiced in al sections and communities of the country in one from or another. With it are associated many other evils like greed, prejudice against women, ill treatment of girl child, bride-burning, taking of bribes etc. so as to be able to give money etc. in the marriage of a daughter. Many young women commit suicide because their parents cannot afford to give dowry. In many a case, parents borrow money on exorbitant rate of interest to marry off their daughters and spend rest of their life in great misery.
It has become very difficult to find a suitable match for a girl without paying handsome dowry. It has soured the relations and there are tensions, ill-will and disharmony in the families. Marriage has become a kind of business and exploitation of the parents of a girl. Parents of well educated and highly placed boys demand huge dowry both in cash and kind. The rates are fixed according to the qualifications and career positions of the boys to be married. If the boy is a doctor or engineer the demand may be anything between 5 to 10 lakhs. If the would be groom is an IAS. The rate is still much higher. Thus, bridegrooms are bought and sold like commodities and the girls sacrificed on the altar of marriage. Marriage is no more a marriage of hearts and forging of happy relations but a business transaction, a convenient means of exploitation. Even very highly educated and well off parents do not hesitate to turn themselves beggars and demand huge dowries.
Dowry system is a matter of great shame and slur on the Indian society. In no other country an evil like dowry can be found. It reflects our prejudice against women. It underlines the fact women in India are not treated equally and fairly. After marriages, women are harassed, ill treated and even burned to death if they fail to bring in sufficient dowry. There is no limit to the greed of the in-laws of the bride. They demand more and more dowry even after marriage. It has turned many families into a hell. The evil has already taken a heavy toll of female life in the country. And yet there is not end to it. People are victims of double standards and double speak. They speak and preach against dowry but in practice they make huge demands at the time of their son’s marriage.
Dowry system is against the law of equality of men and women. It is a crime to give and take dowry. But these are openly violated. There are thousands of cases of dowry every year few offenders are actually punished. It shows that laws alone are not enough. Besides laws, we need more social awareness and effective social measures. We should create a movement and strong public opinion against the system. The movement should be taken to villages and every nook and corner of the country. More leaders, social groups, men and women should be involved in the movement against the evil. People who practice dowry system should be socially boycotted. Women organizations should hold demonstrations against such people.
The registration of marriage should be made compulsory. Young men and women should be made to take a pledge against the evil. The women should refuse to marry the men who demand dowry. Group and community marriages can also help in removing the evil. More and more women should be encouraged to take employment and become economically independent. The percentage of literacy among girls and women is very low. This rate should be increased. More schools, colleges and training institution for women should be opened. There should be free education for women up to the university level. Spread of literacy and education among women can prove a great weapon against dowry.
The women themselves should come forward forward and fight against the practice of dowry. They should know their rights, privileges and strengths. They should stop thinking in terms of a weaker sex. They should revolt and expose dowry practitioners. They should stand on their own feet and fight for their rights. Now there is much more awakening among women than before. But it is just a beginning. They should fight against all kinds a discriminations and unjust male-domination. The young men should frankly reject the demand for dowry from their parents. Demand for dowry reduces a party to a status of a beggar. The evil should be fought both on the levels of law and society. A very strong propaganda and movement are needed to eradicate the evil for ever.