The practice of accepting or giving dowry is prevalent in Indian society despite the spread of education and awareness. Some argue that if dowry is given as a goodwill gesture it is not unethical or immoral. Some justify taking dowry on the grounds that their son is well educated and settled thanks to the money they have spent on him and dowry is a means to get back that money; some even say that dowry is needed to look after their daughter-in-law as she would be staying either with them or with their son.
Let marriage remain a sacred unison of two human beings, and not become a meagre contract.
We live in a country where parents do not want daughters to be born, as reflected in the skewed child sex ratio; a country where hundreds of marriages are cancelled just a day before the ceremony as that is considered the most opportune moment to ask for dowry and a nation where we have to run campaigns for 'beti bachao' as still there are bride burnings in pockets of cities.
We may argue that if given as a goodwill gesture dowry is not unethical. The problem is that it leads to comparisons and gets linked to social status and caste. The bride has to go through emotional violence as each day her parents are compared to the ones who, gave lakhs of cash, jewellery and a car in ‘goodwill gesture’. Secondly, boy’s parents prefer to search for the families that can show this ’goodwill gesture’. Lastly, It gets very difficult for the government to monitor them under IPC and dowry protection act, as families easily mask their act of dowry under this ‘goodwill gesture’.
To justify dowry on the grounds that it is a means to get back that money parents have spent on the education of their son; we not only insult our own sons and their abilities, but the whole process of education. The consequence is a choice for the girl child parents- whether to spend money on her education or save it for dowry. The literacy rate data of our country shows, that they often choose the latter.
Last, to say that dowry is needed to look after their daughter-in-law as she would be staying either with them or with their son only reeks off our paternalistic mindset, that she is still considered as an outsider in the family who needs dowry as some ‘maintenance allowance’. It is also an insult of the sacred institution of marriage and violation of her right to live ‘with dignity’.
Dowry, thus is an illegal unethical practice, in all its forms that it exists today, and we both men and women who directly or indirectly become a part of it, without raising resistance are to blame.