Prevalence of Dowry System

“Acceptance of dowry is a disgrace for the young man who accepts it as well dishonor for the woman folk.” –
-Mahatma Gandhi

In the social heritage, marriage has never been looked at from the materialistic point of view. It is considered a sacrament as it is a religious duty and is completed only on performance of rites by a Brahmin. Though the Hindu marriage system can be appreciated for its sacred aims and rites associated with it, but at the same time it is condemned for evils like dowry.

The growing greed for money, power and position among the masses is one of the reasons behind it. The desire of the groom’s family to realize the dreams of luxurious living among the lower and middle class, gives strength to it. The Institute of Development and Communication reveals that 85 per cent of dowry deaths and 80 per cent of dowry harassments occur in the lower and middle strata of the society. The existence and retention of caste system; religious orthodox undermining the women and making them vulnerable to socio – economic pressures also contribute to it. The hyper populated society against unmarried women and a political system run by pro status quo conservatives force women to be a part of this social institution. The use of indirect and sophisticated methods and the offenders trying to give an impression to be a suicidal or an accidental death make evidence recovery difficult.

In pursuance with Article 15(2) of the Constitution, the central legislature has enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act; 1961.Sec. 8 B provides for ‘appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officers by the State Governments to prevent, as far as possible, the taking or abetting the taking of, or the demanding of, dowry; and perform other functions.’

Sec. 498, Sec. 304 B of the Indian Penal Code and Sec. 113 A, Sec. 113B of the Indian Evidence Act deal with penal provisions and presumption in cases relating to dowry respectively. The existing laws provide remedies to women, irrespective of their religion. The absence of any provision relating to speedy dispensation of justice is a flaw in them which prevents the act of dowry in becoming a feared crime.

National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, in its report “Crime in India – 2005” published in July, 2006 revealed that from 2001 to 2005 total number of dowry deaths were 34,294. Crime Clock of 2005” reported wherein one dowry death case is committed in every 77 minutes in India. The Law Commission’s 202nd Report, 2007 recommended the enforcement agencies to be more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the situation arising from the incidents of dowry death. The National Commission for Women in 2005 proposed an amendment to enhance the punishment for dowry deaths under Section 304-B, IPC.

In 1970s, Pakistan attempted to make dowry giving or taking entirely illegal. A new law in 1976 set a certain amount of dowry to be permissible where the bridal gifts and marriage expenditure could not exceed 50,000 rupees (about $900). But the lack of social responsibility and firmly rooted trends rendered this law practically void.

Women are not only pivotal in human life but also partner of men in making human life flourish and progress. They need not only to be aware of their rights but also able enough to claim them .We should realize that they deserve an ‘equal status’ with men providing which is a duty of the society. Let us fight against this social menace with vigor and endurance.

Bhumika Sharma
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