Understanding dowry

If the pervading propaganda (initiated by feminists) is to be believed, India is a uniquely depraved nation as marrying women are supposed to bring dowry to matrimonial home, a practice with no parallel elsewhere in the world. Many naively swallow this and there is no dearth of social-media posts that urge so called patriarchal-minded men to give up this outdated ritual that places a monetary value on women without respecting them for what they are.

The educated youngsters or feminists, who no lose no occasion to criticize this practice, never make efforts to learn what dowry giving/taking families think about this system.

  • Women themselves (those not working) wish to go to matrimonial home with dowry, for they think they will not be respected otherwise. Till the relation cements, newly-wed women are reluctant to ask husbands to buy them their requirements and do not wish to go empty-handed.
  • In families, where the woman has male-siblings, almost invariably dowry is the only form of inheritance they receive. In most cases, after marriage woman loses her rights in parental home and henceforth her rightful claim is only in matrimonial home.
  • Refusing to bring dowry doesn’t work in favour of woman because it ends up only in giving her brothers a larger share in property. It is seen in many instances that when woman do not marry, they do not get any share in the parental property at all. So for women, it is a choice between dowry and no share in property, automatically leading them to favour the former.

Further, dowry has more to it than appears:

  • Even from the same family, a man with a good position will get higher dowry than his brother who hasn’t been as successful professionally. So dowry is a move to buy connections and upward mobility for the woman’s family, since they as a family are poised to gain from this alliance. Rural families often give huge dowries to city-based grooms, in order to get a readymade footing for their entire families in the city. It is not uncommon to see wife’s brother(s) staying with the couple in city to pursue education or job. Dowry is given as an investment for the family’s growth.
  • With families going nuclear even in rural India, and many wives forcing their husbands to set up a separate household, the cinematic cliché of a bahu struggling in a huge joint family is hardly seen today. Irrespective of whether the couple is living with husband’s parents or not, the parents these days are no longer able to count of son’s support post-marriage as wives are increasingly allergic to this and differences crop up between the couple on this account. In the larger interest of their son’s marital life, parents are often forced to let them live separately and refuse to accept any financial assistance. Now, wife is the major if not the sole claimant to husband’s income and should she be able to win him over, the parents will be left stranded in their old-age.
  • With such unfortunate events not uncommon these days, parents are reconciled to let go their rights on the son after marriage. Indeed, that’s the reason why parents insist on marrying the daughters first, as they’re doubtful of receiving support from sons once married. But to recompense for the investment they’ve made on bringing up the son and forfeiting their rightful claim on his future income, the parents seek a full and final compensation during marriage in the form of dowry.

If the girl has brother(s), the girl’s parents in the pretext of giving dowry are actually disinheriting her. And in most cases, the boy’s parents in return of accepting dowry are forfeiting their claim in son’s future income. These two different unfortunate trends have fueled dowry-rise.

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