The malignant act- Dowry


The dowry system (Dahej pratha) has been prevalent in India since times immemorial. Exchange of bride for goods, in terms of cash, gold, motorbike, land and innumerable things displayed on the market appear to degrade the pristine morals of marriage. Whilst the sacrifices made by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Medha Patkar among the others did make certain changes for a limited time period, various movies and daily soap operas continue to telecast shows in which women are presented as typical housewives, working at home and taking care of children. 

The disparity between boys and girls cannot be escaped by the naked eye. If the places between men and women are switched, where women shoulder employment responsibilities and men carry out various household chores, people would be shocked and would consider it grotesque. Coming back to the callous dowry system, a girl’s worth is measured in terms of the fortune she brings into her husband’s family. Besides, a girl is expected to marry someone within her community. Inter-caste marriages are considered as flagrant acts that brings shame to one’s family. In certain villages, couples involved in love marriages run the risk of being murdered by their own families. The quotation “Blood is thicker than water” collapses here.

If a girl’s parents wishes to hand her over to a well-educated and an economically settled man, they are expected to pay more through dowry. And the huge gifts and bounties presented to the son-in-law isn’t a one-time affair. The girl is expected to bring in wealth and luxuries throughout her lifetime. Well, Is that what  a marriage is? If the girl fails to meet the demands of her in-laws, she is tortured and treated as a human guinea pig! No wonder, the rate of suicides, female infanticide, unmarried women are sky-high in the country. One woman dies every hour due to dowry related reasons.


A girl, who dreams of a charming prince, riding on a horseback coming to save her, is suddenly shocked by the harsh realities of her life. She is forced to do all the household chores that a housemaid does along with taking care of her children. Dowry is a one-way gift. If, by chance, the gifts from her folks stop flooding in, she is harassed inhumanly by her husband who uses her as a sex object and by her merciless in-laws. Fearing that her new born daughter would suffer the same fate, she kills her daughter and burns herself to death. Her husband would, in time, wed another bride and the cycle continues. 
Dowry acts, bills and laws have all been crafted and passed but would it do any good unless they are implemented? Section 30-B of the Indian penal code lays down that when the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injuries or occur otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage, such death shall be ‘dowry death’ and such husband or relative shall be responsible for her death. 

Women education, although frowned upon in a male dominated society must be preferred first rather than cooking. As a child, girls must not only be allowed to play with dolls but with balls too. Employment opportunities in various sectors of the society must be given to women making them strong and independent. Mere reservations of seats in buses and trains won’t solve the problem. Women need to form their committee, foster education and encourage girls to fight against such evil practices. If there is a desire to put an end to the dowry system, individuals should start taking the initiative themselves. Only then, would there be a ‘dowry free’ country.

Author: Alisha

A writer living in Mumbai.

28 thoughts on “The malignant act- Dowry”

    1. In Islam, women takes mahr,do not confuse dowry with mahr. Once she has been given a heap of gold, nobody has the right to take from her but some husbands take it forcefully. Dowry is hugely practised in the Hindu religion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. different recipe same food.Million way to take sides.The Women in Islam is 1/2 a man.They don’t stone the mail adulterer but they do adulteress .At the same time when a woman steals they cut her hand equally they cut the hand of a thief this is the only equality in Islam between man and a woman .Man Can marry 4 women ,woman is forbidden to divorce her brutal husband.As you said D stands for donkey.


  1. Thank you for the education on this subject, I have heard some but little through the cinema (very little) about this evil. Keep up the good work and I hope you to be safe from retaliation (not wishing bad upon you). It is scary (to my mind, amazingly sick). We take so much for granted here in America. I will return for more, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think both sides are quite responsible, why do the parents of the girl buy that unscrupulous man? Why do educated women give dowries to marry? Why don’t they borrow that money from their parents and become financially independent? Men and their family may be 55% responsible but women and their family are 45% responsible for this disease.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very well written Alisha….but more sad than the dowry itself is that it is increasing and not at all getting less…nowadays the demands are not called dowry…they term it as lena dena…and this again is more fatal and worse than dowry…dowry is a curse in India and also the bahu…bahu is a guinea pig and also a person who will have to bear all and still be quiet…BAHU – Maid in India….

    good article…
    good job!!!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Changing unfair systems is always hardest when facing cultural norms that are often backed up by religion Anything can be read the wrong way. Anyone brave enough to work for change openly should be able to enlist others. Godspeed. .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is going to be one of the very few times when I disagree with you.

    How many girls refuse guys because they do not earn enough? How many guys refuse girls because they do not look ‘hot’? How many parents refuse a marriage because other side eats non veg?

    I can go on. List is endless. The biggest problem is this:

    In the old days, dowry was meant for the girl. It is a heritage of sorts for the female child, because she is leaving her parents. That is what is missing, importance of dowry.

    PS: I do not support current dowry practices or past dowry practices.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dowry: Less a Feminist Issue than Driving a Car?

    The term Feminism generally invokes the idea of a movement  that is supposed to give attention to all anti-woman practices along with working towards their eradication. The degree of concern may or should vary according to the degree of oppression or the gravity of consequences of a particularly practice. However, if we observe the pattern of feminist outrage, we can see that feminists all over the world are more concerned with the superficial issues like Saudi women’s right to driving, or non-issues like wearing of veil or hijab by Muslim women, etc. but show no concern for as grave a practice as Dowry in India. In India itself, feminists are much more concerned about girls’ right to wear jeans-top, skirts or shorts, to use cell phones, to have boyfriends or love affairs, to have unlimited freedom, etc. All these, no doubt, are a matter of concern, but among all the practices that may amount to gender inequality or gender oppression, Dowry is the most unjustifiable, the most humiliating and the most oppressive one. It is the greatest factor behind girls being treated as a liability in India while boys are treated as an asset, a thought that is being resulted in increasing rates of female feticide in India. It is a matter of concern itself that such a vicious practice is taken so casually that it is hardly discussed on national or international forums organized by women themselves, for women themselves, to discuss the problems of women themselves. The present paper proposes to shed light upon this issue with a focus on the feminist negligence towards it, along with discussing the practical ways towards its elimination.

    Liked by 1 person

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