Dowry: An Ancient Practice That Needs To Die, Not The Brides.

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.

Dowry Deaths and Suicides Notes

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.”

About unholypursuit

A. White, an award winning former librarian, who is also a long time member of Romantic Time and Publisher's Weekly. A. White has been writing for over fifteen years. She took classes in creative writing in college, specializing in ancient myths and legends. and later at a local community center while living in Chicago. In college she won the national contest to verbally list every country in the world, it's capital and ingenious language. Her works are mainly horror, fantasy, extreme, and sci-fi as well as, as some may says, "the truly strange predicament and puzzling." Books that I've written are "Clash with the Immortals, and eleven others which are part of the "Unholy Pursuit saga,". She has been working on the Chronicles since 2007. She wished to complete them all before introducing them to public so the readers wouldn't have to for the continuation to be written. The ideas of the book come from classic literature such as whose work greatly influence the world world such as Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Euripides, Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle and many more. The "Book of Enoch" influenced the usage of Azazael as a main character and love interest. I created the primary main character from the Chronicle of Saints. I wanted to show them as real flesh and blood with thoughts, desires and yearning as any human. Not as they are so often depicted. So I created one of my own to show her as a real human that everyone can relate to.
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25 Responses to Dowry: An Ancient Practice That Needs To Die, Not The Brides.

  1. “The same agency reported that more than 1,700 women killed themselves that year over “dowry-related issues.”

    I doubt these women killed themselves. They were murdered.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hedi says:

    I’m not trying to dismiss anyone’s customs as being nonsense but I’m tired of reading about another girl or woman being killed for no reason at all. I’m baffled. Why do people keep up this practice when it is clearly become a racketeering, a way to make quick money if you have lots of good looking sons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hedi says:

    I’m baffled. Why do people keep up this practice when it is clearly has become a rackeet to make quick money if you have lots of good looking sons. I mean, what happened to divorcing these husbands? Why are the women still with these men? Is divorce illegal in this culture?

    I have noticed everywhere the British ad other European nations colonized has a high rate of mistreating women. I don’t know was the society already like that but it’s definitely became horrible for women afterward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heidi I wish I knew why they continue it when it’s a scam being run by some people. Why is the father-in-law giving the son-in-law money to do what a husband is supposed to do. Why is the husband still in his parents’ house? He’s a grown man. He needs his own house.


  4. That was very cruel, killing the wife by vemanous snakes!

    Here in Southern Africa we do the opposite, it is the groom that pays a bride-price to a bride’s family. It used to be in a form of livestock but nowadays it’s money. This is not about someone being sold like a slave, but part of a protocol condoning respect of the bride’s family by the groom’s family, and dignity.

    If there are 1000+ married women in India who committed suicide, I agree their method of paying dowry needs to be re-visited. However, abusive husbands are everywhere not in India only. May the souls of the three sisters rest in peace!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I 100% agreed, abusive husbands are everywhere, not just India. They are all over the world and with women empowerment they are getting worst. Many abusive husbands are right here in the USA and in Europe. I used to do volunteer work at a domestic violence center. I saw them quite regularly.

      Unless shes’ a heiress, she isn’t being killed or beaten for her money, because she has none. He’s just an evil man full of himself as to why he’s attacking his wife. Usually, there’s no money involved. And if she’s a heiress, it’s very difficult to beat and kill her for her money.

      I guess it’s hard for Americans to understand this practice because in the Western World any time money or any wealth is exchanged for a person, it’s viewed as buying that person. Which is viewed as slavery. And in our society, the last time goods or monies were exchanged for a human being resulted into The Middle Passage and slavery, which took 244 years and a four years of violent warfare to end. That’s why in America we can’t marry a person by paying for anything other than the license and the cost of the wedding.

      Mind if I asked—why is this ancient practice still carried out today if so many women are dying due to their families’ inability to pay or can not meet the demands of the groom and his family? Nearly every week I read about another woman or girl dying somewhere in the world due to dowry. I read where some women and girls are killed after the full amount is paid and the husband takes the money and disappear. I do not believe these are exaggerated stories. These women and their families are appealing to the outside world for there seemed to be no help at home.

      Frankly, I doubt this many women are committing suicide, I believe they are being murdered. These families seemed to know these are not suicides but are afraid to say so. I know a little about wells for my great grandparents had one. How on earth did that many people, three women and their children, get in a well as much noise with as is made hitting the bottom, without anyone in that house knowing they were in the well?

      There’s a case a year or so ago of a cover up, a case of a ten year old girl raped and murdered by the upper caste young men of her area and the authorities covered it up, removed her body and burnt it without the family’s permission. People witnessed what they did to the child but was afraid to say anything.

      Several world organizations are presently working hard trying to end child bridal dowries in Africa, many parts of the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. And these girls once bought by these men do live the life of a slave.

      By no means are American’s marriage tradition perfect. There are many flaws that needs addressing. Here in America, each couple is expected to build their own wealth. Wedding gifts are given by both sides of the family and their friends. But ultimately, it’s expected of the couple to pull together and built their own wealth.

      This is not about someone being sold like a slave, but part of a protocol condoning respect of the bride’s family by the groom’s family, and dignity.

      Seemingly to me, if they wanted to respect the bride and her family they would not ask for money and they would treat her with kindness, respect, and love once she comes into their household. Not bully a person to death.

      It’s reported the dowry often place a brides’ family in financial hardship. A second or third daughter can not marry because the parents can not afford the eldest daughter dowry or is still paying for it. I read somewhere that the groom’s family can halt the wedding of other members (sisters) of their daughter-in-law’s family if the first dowry is not paid to the fullest of the contract. Meaning all monies of the bride’s families must be paid to the first groom’s family until the debt is satisfied. Wow, if that’s true. Then that’s worst than bill collectors. They can’t come in your house and take what they want.

      I know in ancient world dowries were used as a peace agreements between kings and lesser rulers and these marriages were also part of the agreement of each ruler say:”I won’t attack you anymore because my daughter is in your house but if you mistreat or kill her, expect to taste my blade”. But this is not the case in most dowries. So, why is it still carried out?


      • Aadarsh says:

        A., many modern people will not tell you the truth as to why these things are happening and why many do not view them as a crime. Things which you view as acts of brutality, an abomination, an iniquity are not a crime in many parts of the world.

        Bear in mind these practices long predate the gentleness of Christianity.

        It all goes back to the Old Religion. You see, men are considered sons of Brahma, women are not. Unlike in your culture, where Adam is considered a son of Jehovah and so is Eve considered a direct daughter of Jehovah. Well, in Hinduism, Manu is considered a direct son of Lord Brahma while Shatarupa the first woman is not. All Women come from Shatarupa who was created by Lord Brahma to help him with Creation. She was given unto Manu after Lord Brahma paid a dowry to himself. Woman was created to help Lord Brahma with creation. She is not considered a daughter but rather a Creation. What why many outer laying province not influenced by Western thinking do not considered it a crime to harm a female. They are viewed as a creation of the Creator not a child of the creator.

        The dowries were originally given by Lord Brahma as an offering. Given a privilege to wed a son of Lord Brahma. You see it’s still believed by some today, that all men, regardless of caste, are made from various parts of Lord Brahma. Men are not a creature of his powers as women are.

        This same belief applies with many cultures in Africa and Asia. It is why it’s so difficult to see women in any other light other than subjugation. Even today, in many parts of the world women are still expected to be in servitude to the man. That’s why in the beginning of the Trans-Saharan slave trade slave only women and girls were sold into slavery. They were not view as entirely human as men were.

        The trade requires travel across the Sahara between sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa. It has existed from prehistoric times. The slave trade as we came to know it didn’t begin until the fall of Egypt and Carthage.

        Shatarupa- ‘she of a hundred beautiful forms’. I won’t go into the Trimurti. But it’s akin to the Christian’s Trinity or Ezekiel’s Four Faced man.

        I hope this help you to understand the Hindu Culture. Just as many other cultures. It is the women of the household that cook the food so logistically they are preparing and serving the food – there is no self-service in Indian Hindu culture.

        So after everyone else has eaten the wife serves the husband and then herself takes her meal. Or she may eat with her husband if someone else serves them.

        The women are alleviated of this responsibility during menstruation – then they can be served by the men who do the cooking.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aadarsh, thank you very much for visiting and helping me to understand another culture. Truthfully, I long suspected something like this may have been the reason these crimes are not taken seriously. They were rooted in religious practices of male superiority. If women were creatures, then eating them wouldn’t be a crime, an abomination. Yes, I’m aware there was once a group that ate human remains after a funerary burning. I can not view something that harms people are acceptable cultural heritage. Sorry, I just can’t.

          I’m sure modern people know better. That many of these practices are wrong whereas their ancestors didn’t. When you know better, then you do better.

          If all ancient customs are acceptable because they are old and people used to do it, then it couldn’t be a crime to behead people and use their heads as chair adornments, or pendants. It shouldn’t be a crime to build a wicker man and burn people alive. It couldn’t be a crime to eat human flesh. When a society advances all members of it should advance.


        • Tyre says:

          If he is a god, what did he need her help for?

          Liked by 1 person

      • You might have seen it all while volunteering at a domestic violence center, and it’s understandably a quiet traumatizing experience.

        I think you might have slightly misunderstood me! I’m not condoning the Indian culture where the bride’s family provides money to the groom’s, instead I also find it strange because here in Africa, let me say Southern Africa because I’m not familiar with the North African practice, we do the opposite: In Southern Africa it’s the groom’s family that pays the bride-price to the bride’s family. I’m emphasing this because that extract starting with “this is not about someone being sold a slave…”, was to support the S. African culture and not the Indian’s! Many women dying due to their families’ inability to pay is something which is different from the Southern African men who are even proud that theyve paid the bride-price. To them, it’s like they are appreciating the bride’s family for bearing them a wife. After this bride-price which we call Lobola, there’s a function that follows, where the bride’s family slaughters a cow and organises a party to welcome the groom’s family, which, at the end, leaves both families contributing in spending the money. They even exchange the gifts, other gifts go the bride’s family and vice-versa.

        In the olden days and the modern fewer households, this is what we call wedding, a customery marriage as opposed to civil marriage and stuff. So unlike in America where you say you only pay for the license and the cost of wedding, this Lobola that I’ve described above, is the wedding itself, and the letter that is written by the groom’s family to the bride’s family about the involvement of their children, is sort of a license, a traditional license. It’s only these modern times where the Southern African families twist things, mixing the western and the traditional cultures in one marriage.

        Having said this, I guess there’s something wrong with the wedding culture taking place in India, to an extent of many women being killed or committing suicides! The killings that take place here in Southern Africa do not result from the Lobola, but it’s just a GBV caused by both married and unmarried couples including those who married by civil.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wouldn’t say working at the domestic violence shelters were traumatizing. I would say it was eye-opening to the deprivation level some men will go. I saw women and children suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD. It was heart breaking to see them so frighten and unsure.

          I agree there’s something terribly wrong with a system if women are being killed, mistreated or taking their lives due to inability to pay a dowry. I think the abolition of dowries should be enforced.

          In America, like I said, there was once a practice of slavery and indenture servant and a price was paid to own another human being. It would not set well for an American to pay any type of bridal price or dowry. We have what’s called bridal showers where the females of both sides get to know each other. The bachelor party is where the males of both sides get to know each other. The reception where food is served is part of the cost of wedding. The wedding gifts are usually collected by the bride’s family, but either side can collect them and deliver them to the couple.

          I don’t think your Lobola is anything like the Indian dowry.

          Despite the tougher penalties, the practice of dowries still remains deeply entrenched in society as an integral part of marriage. According to the World Bank, a dowry was given in 95% of the 40,000 marriages that took place in rural India between 1960 and 2008.

          Dowries continue to be expected and demanded as a condition to accept a marriage proposal in some parts of the world, mainly in parts of Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. In certain Asian countries, disputes related to dowry sometimes result in acts of violence against women, including killings and acid attacks.

          North Africa has a very strong Muslim influence which account to their practice of dowries.

          Liked by 1 person

          • By the way, even many cases of Polyandry were recorded in Kerala, India. So maybe this also has something to do with decisions on their dowries.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I didn’t know that Polyandry was still practiced in several parts of India. I looked it up and such areas as Rajasthan, Ladakh and Zanskar, in the Jaunsar-Bawar region in Uttarakhand, among the Toda of South India. It also occurs or has occurred in Nigeria, the Nymba, Irigwe and some pre-contact Polynesian societies, though most likely only among higher caste women of all societies, but I doubt that has anything to do with the dowry deaths. The area where the deaths are occurring doesn’t seemed to be practicing polyandry. The study of societies that do practice Polyandry, it seemed to work out better for the woman than monogamous marriage, because the husbands are in sometime in competition with each other. I find it odd, the places where Polyandry is practiced it’s the man who pay a bridal price not the woman.

              Liked by 1 person

    • “That was very cruel, killing the wife by venomous snakes!” I guess that’s no more terrible than the practice in America of poisoning women with parasites.


  5. Hadley says:

    Thanks goodness the wife burning practice is greater enforced than the outlawing of dowry. Louisiana is the only state in the US where dowry is allowed. It said a lot of India’s lower caste were sold to these areas during slavery and the dowry system followed them here.

    I know the story below is French but they practiced it too.
    LOUISIANA: Poydras’ Brides
    Monday, Apr. 03, 1939

    Sometime in the 18th Century, the heart of Julien Poydras was broken. This week Mmes Marjorie Goudeau Vessier, Elizabeth Thibodeaux St. Romain, Myrtle Peavy Ashley and 18 other Louisiana brides will profit from the sequel to his sorrow.

    Julien Poydras, son of poor peasants at Nantes in France, loved a peasant girl. She had no dot, he had no money, and her parents took the French view of love without francs. Deprived of his intended, young Julien in 1768 took his heart to America, in Louisiana rose from peddler to owner of many acres and slaves. When he died, rich and unwed, in 1824, he bequeathed to the neighboring parishes of Pointe Coupée and West Baton Rouge $30,000 each, “. . . the interest … to be employed in giving a dowry to all girls of the said parish who get married—the unfortunate always to be preferred.”

    Pointe Coupée eventually diverted its inheritance to building a school, but except in the Civil War years, West Baton Rouge annually had distributed the interest on Julien Poydras’ money to dark, full-breasted Creole brides. Of the $2,400 or so paid each year, the poorest brides get the most. Just how much each receives is the secret of the three commissioners who administer the fund. Otherwise, jealousies might cloud the fame of Julien Poydras.

    These four American brides were sold off to foreign lords in the 1800’s

    So in short, seemingly anytime money is brought to the marriage altar it guarantee the women a life of misery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the information. I knew of the Creole dowry practice in America and the newly rich during the gilded age selling off their daughters for a title. Winston Church is perhaps the most famous offspring of such union. I knew about the Dalits and the Shudras were sold into slavery and ended up here in America. But I had no idea they brought the dowry practice with them.


  6. Aadarsh says:

    A., I agree with you about abolishing these practices forever. A crime is a crime no matter who is committing it. I believe men of long ago knew these practices were wrong, but out of the selfishfulness of the human heart, they kept them alive. What better way to keep something alive than commencing a god approve of it? I mean, it has long worked in men’s favor. So why would they want to get rid of it? I say it’s up to the families of women to stop paying them and believe me–Men will give up a dowry much quicker than they will give up women. Those societies still paying them for whatever reason, shall they stop and say, “No more”. The practice would die. Honor, respect, reverence are just empty words to justify a practice that could have long gone into the dumpster. I’m Indian, I’m Hindu and I have not paid my two son-in-laws a single rupee. And do not intend to. Giving my daughter to you was payment enough. I didn’t put my daughters through college to cook and clean for a man. You better get your lazy बट bat out there, get a job, and take care of my daughter and your children. I had to do it and so did my father before me. My father-in-law paid me nothing but a sour face on my wedding day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tyre says:

    I know this is old but what the woman’s bust size to do with how much she gets?

    Liked by 1 person

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