I have forthrightly researched the practice and still have not found a reason it exist to begin with. How is it helping your daughter when her husband and her in-laws may or may not give her the money? Or use it make her life easier?
Of all the books I have read on the subject trying to understand it, none made sense why the practice was started in the beginning. I understand it’s a very old practice and still performed in many parts of the world but isn’t giving that family your child enough?
I know in some places women and girls are seen as an economical burden. But all husbands marry knowing they will have to take care of their wives. He knew he had to support her when he married her. If your family has to take care of you, then what’s the point in getting married?
To me, it’s like the dowry is saying the groom is the prize. Not the bride. I’m paying you to marry my daughter. This kind of mentality usually leads to spousal abuse. I haven’t seen a society yet which thinks this way that doesn’t have a very high spousal abuse rate or Femicide or feminicide rate. Femicide is a hate crime term, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.”
Paying someone to marry your daughter is setting her up to be killed by unscrupulous people.
I have thoroughly researched this topic and still can not find a reason it exist to begin with. I know it’s an ancient custom but I can’t see how it helps the bride for her family to give money to her in-laws who may or may not share it with her. I’m not saying there are no loving men in India. I believe there but one cannot ignore the high rate of women being killed over a dowry her family can not afford. The dowry makes a marriage sounds more like a business arrangement thank love.
Although Indian laws against dowries have been in effect for six decades, they have been largely ignored and criticized as being ineffective. The practice of dowry deaths and murders continues to take place unchecked in many parts of India, which has further added to the concerns of enforcement of the law.
Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code required the groom and his family to be automatically arrested if a wife complains of dowry harassment. The law was widely abused, and in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that arrests cannot be made without a magistrate’s approval.
Mamta, Kalu and Kamlesh Meena, and Kalu’s son Harshit — who were all found dead, along with another child, in a well in Dudu village on May 28, 2022 — is pictured at the Meena home in Chhapya village, in India’s Rajasthan state, on May 31.
JAIPUR, India: Before the three sisters and their children were found dead in a well, they left a message blaming the family they had married into.
Kalu, Kamlesh and Mamta Meena were victims of a dispute over dowries, the often hefty sums Indian parents pay to marry off their daughters.
The sisters had wed brothers from the same household and lived under the same roof, but suffered constant violence from their husbands and in-laws, according to the trio’s grieving relatives.
They were abused constantly, they say, including when their father failed to meet demands for more money.
All three were found dead last month near their marital home, a village on the outskirts of Jaipur, along with Kalu’s four-year-old son and infant child. Both Kamlesh and Mamta were pregnant.
“We don’t wish to die, but death is better than their abuse,” read a message on WhatsApp left by one of the sisters after their disappearance, a cousin said.
“Our in-laws are the reason behind our deaths. We are dying together because it’s better than dying every day,” it added.
Authorities are investigating and currently treating the deaths as suicides, a senior police officer in Jaipur told Agence France-Presse.
The sisters’ distraught father, Sardar Meena, said life had been a living hell for his daughters, whose husbands banned them from pursuing their education and constantly harassed them for more payments.
“We had already given them so many things. You can see them in their home,” he told AFP, counting off the beds, television sets and refrigerator he provided to the family.
“I am the father of six girls; there is a limit to how much I can give,” added Sardar, who earns a meager income as a farmer. “I had educated them, and just doing that was difficult.”
Police have arrested the three husbands, their mother and a sister-in-law on charges of dowry harassment and spousal abuse.
AFP’s attempts to contact the men’s family were unsuccessful.
‘Dignity of the family’
India outlawed the practice of paying dowries more than 60 years ago, and harassment or extortion over the payments is a criminal offense. But yet the practice is still very much alive.
But the custom persists, particularly in rural areas, undergirded by social conventions that treat women as an economic burden and demand compensation for accepting them as brides.
Local news outlets regularly report on marital property disputes that end in murder.
Last year, a man in the southern state of Kerala was jailed for life after using venomous snakes to murder his wife and take sole control of their property, which included a new car and 500,000 rupees ($6,500) provided by her family as dowry.
Courts have also been punitive in their treatment of dowry harassment, jailing a man in Kerala last month for 10 years after his payment demands were blamed for driving his wife to suicide.
A pervasive taboo around divorce — only one in 100 Indian marriages end in dissolution — has kept married women from contemplating escape from abusive situations.
For the Meena sisters, leaving was never seen as an option, even though their relatives were aware of the violence.
“Once they were married, we thought they should remain in their marital homes to maintain the dignity of the family,” Sardar said.
“If we had gotten them remarried in another home, and if that situation turned out to be worse, then what will we do? We’ll lose face,” he added.
‘End of the road’
India’s National Crime Records Bureau recorded nearly 7,000 dowry-related killings in 2020 — about 19 women every day.
The same agency reported that more than 1,700 women killed themselves that year over “dowry-related issues.”
Both figures are dependent on reports to police, and experts say the actual number of cases is much higher, as with other data on family violence.
“In an hour, some 30 to 40 women are victims of domestic violence…and these are just documented (cases), so it must be much more than that,” Kavita Srivastava, an activist with India’s People’s Union for Civil Liberties, told AFP.
Srivastava said the dowry dispute involving the Meena sisters was just one part of their tormentors’ efforts to control their lives and restrict their independence.
The fundamental cause, she added, was a widespread social acceptance of domestic violence in India that leaves women feeling trapped in oppressive and violent relationships.
“If even one woman has to kill herself because her marital life seems like the end of the road,” she said, “I feel the Indian state has failed for those women.”