Dowry is an evil in the Indian social life. Ever since our independence, there has been a lot of changes in our social and economic patterns, in our customs and beliefs and our thoughts and actions. But it is a pity that a lot of women in India remains unchanged. Though we have made several laws to bring about some change for the better, we have not been able to get free of the evils of dowry from our social life.
The custom of dowry has its ancient origin. There has been a mention of it in the Vedas and in the ancient epics. It was probably started with a view to giving gifts to the daughters as a token of their parents' love and affection. It was also the just way of giving a girl a share of her paternal property by way of gifts. It was, so to say, a voluntary gift by the parents to their beloved daughters.
How it has degenerated:
This noble custom has degenerated during the years. Nowadays marriages have become a sort of business deal. The girl has become a commodity in the marriage market. The girl parents have to agree to the dictates of the groom's family, The amount of dowry is decided much before the wedding ceremony. But there is no guarantee of peace and happiness for the bridge at her in-law's house even if her parents fulfil every demand of the groom. Every day we find the pages of newspapers full of mishaps caused due to the evils of dowry. The young brides are tortured day in and day out, and some of them are even burnt to death or killed by some other means. At times, some brides cannot stand regular tortures and commit suicide.
The Popular Belief of the Society about Girls :
It is a popular belief in our society that a girl is supposed to go to her in-law's house one day or other. In a family, the birth of a female child is considered to be a bolt from the blue, Soon after her birth, her parents think seriously about her future. A girl is thought to be inferior to a boy, and she needs physical protection all her life. Moreover, she is economically less productive than man. Her parents bring her up she attains her youth. Then they feel it their moral duty to marry her off and send to her in-law's house. Dowry poses a problem for the bride's' parents. All cannot afford to meet the demands of the prospective grooms. The rich, of course, do not face any problems in buying grooms of their choice. But the middle class and the lower-class people suffer a lot. They sell their assets, take loans or arrange money from some other sources to satisfy the grooms of their choice with a hope that their daughters would be happy. As a result of this, they become penniless and thus suffer from mental agony. But their daughter, on the other hand, has no guarantee of living a happy life.
The Fate of the Poor Girls and their Parents:
The modern man's greed has crossed every limit. The parents are having boys to marry always think highly of themselves. They dictate terms to the bride's' parents. The bride's' parents put up with all sorts of humiliations. They try to dispose of their daughter in the marriage market. So they agree to every demand from the groom's' side. But the parents of poor status cannot marry their daughters off. They face a lot of criticism in the society they live in. The girls of the low-income family feel their life quite miserable; and, at times, they put an end to their life. What a great tragedy!
Steps were Taken by the Government to check this evil:
Our government have passed the Anti-Dowry Act to this effect. The people are offering a dowry, and the people are demanding it are liable to be punished as per the Act. But who will report this matter to the authority? Neither the bride's nor the groom's parents will do it. So a sort of social consciousness is necessary against this evil. The youth of our country should rise to the occasion and take an oath not to support this evil practice. They should convince their parents that they would marry without a dowry. The parents should also raise their voice against dowry. There should be a social awakening to put an end to this stigma.
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