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Dowry is a social cancer

Updated on January 20, 2014
17-year old Roopa is a victim of India's dowry    Read Roopa’s Story by rita banerji for details.
17-year old Roopa is a victim of India's dowry Read Roopa’s Story by rita banerji for details.

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  • Roopa's heartbreaking story by rita banerji
  • Dowry is a social custom of asking money, piece of land and other valuables in exchange of a son in marriage. It is a dangerous disease that has plagued mankind in some dark corners of the world for centuries. Some considers it incurable unless parents would change their mindset and change their values about dowry and completely forget it including its derivatives.
  • It is an evil custom that has been handed down from generations. Before a son is given to a girl in marriage, the son’s parents demand dowry from the girl’s parents. The dowry is not fixed. It is the groom’s parents who pronounced the exact amount based on their social standing in society and on the quality of their son, how they reared and educate him. Nowadays the dowry system has become a big problem for the bride’s family. Some dowries are quite oppressive, which take a number of years to pay in cash as well as things such as cars, air conditioners, and motorcycles. Despite the hard cost of living and whatever is the income of the bride’s family aren’t given consideration as long as the image of the groom’s family in society is maintained and preserved.
  • Brides face torture, harassment and various forms of ill-treatment from the groom’s family for failure to meet the dowry demands. Eventually when they can no longer bear hardships and degradation, they end up killing themselves. Thus it is no wonder why the newspapers, TVs and radios are rife with accounts of young housewives committing suicide by hanging, poisoning or burning. Or their demise are covertly aided by their oppressors to hasten death so that their sons can remarry and demand excessive dowry once more.

  • A new wife may be murdered by her husband or in-laws if they are unhappy with her, rather than sending her back alive to her parents, which would force the in-laws to return the dowry to the bride’s parents.
  • Stats in India show that 90% of such murdered brides were educated, 30% were graduates, and 20% were women who worked outside the home and contributed to the family financially. This is termed “dowry killing.”

  • Dowry killings were once a Hindu phenomenon, but have spread to Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities as well. According to India Today, over 90% of government employees actively seek and get a dowry from their bride's family.

  • 8,391 dowry deaths were reported in India in 2010. Women's rights groups estimate the annual dowry murder rate in Delhi alone is around 900 per year.
    Dowry death or often known as “stove death” is a widespread happening in Pakistan. The term is merely a cover to blame the death on accidents, killing a bride by setting her on fire is the preferred method, as it is in India..

  • To the young men and women, you are the hope and agent of change. Help change the mental setup of your people about dowry that it is not good or it is a sin to demand or give such. Dowry is a social cancer. It must be stopped because countless people are suffering and dying from it.
  • In some cultures dowry and brideprice are both practiced. For a clear understanding, brideprice is also rooted from ancient communities.
  • Brideprice is the exact opposite of dowry. It is the other side of the coin. Parents follow an unwritten law that their daughters who are betrothed to the husband in marriage should never be returned to their parental homes. In such events, parents demand brideprice perhaps for the labor, care, expenses, pains, difficulties, sacrifices, etc. in raising forth their daughters.
  • Brideprice is translated to mean money and valuable properties exacted by the parents of the bride from the bridegroom or his parents. How much is a brideprice worth depends upon the bride’s parents.
  • In clear language, brideprice is money, jewelry and property in exchange for a daughter who is handed to a man in marriage.
  • Brideprice, also known as bride wealth, is even worse than dowry as this practice thinks of girls as items that can be sold or bought
  • As gleaned from above, the parents accept the unwritten terms that their daughter is no longer theirs and should never come home.
  • In effect their daughter which is their very own flesh and blood is forced to adjust manners, morals and character to conform to her monster husband and in-laws. Poor daughter she’s buried alive in a dungeon created by her very own hellish society.
  • Custom they say must be followed and preserved that husband must dominate his wife for she’s nothing but his property, akin to a piece of rag. This wayward tradition dictates that a husband be honored this way. Really? Isn’t it uncovering his impotency? Isn’t this custom a tag of an illiterate society who refuses to effect change because of poverty? For the happiness and well-being of marriageable daughter, parents have no right charging anything from their in-law to be for her hand in marriage. If they do so for the lure of gold and money, it’s like selling a piece of cake.
  • A daughter is more than a cake. She’s holy, sacred, a complete embodiment of what God has created from the very beginning. A bundle of joy and sunshine, she’s equipped with all the senses. See her laugh when happy, moody when sad and angry. As a child when happy and motivated, she radiates hope, promise and a bright tomorrow as well. When she grows, ready and willing to take her better-half, would you trade him for a few peso? Examine your conscience. If you’ve been treated that way, it’s because your parents were ignorant. Don’t ever try to impose it on your daughters just to get even with what you’ve suffered.
  • Now is the time for a change. Don’t sell your comely daughters just to possess things beyond your earning power. It is asking for the moon.
  • With parental guidance, give daughter and her partner-to-be the liberty to enjoy the nectar of love and to plan in their own way things they’ll do for their coming wedding.
  • To order a complete set of wedding attire for you and your Mister with the in-laws shouldering the costs is a move in the wrong direction. Nowadays prices of things are spiraling.
  • The wedding day isn’t the end of everything. After the wedding day, the couple will again encounter expenses for food most importantly. Teach them to save and to stretch the value of a peso. You know what I mean.
  • Both dowry and brideprice walls are impregnable. Time and ages have rendered them rock-solid despite the advances of modern living and civilization. Time and again sad happenings concomitant to the practice of these systems have reared their ugly head, dragging with them unsolved murder cases, battered wives, suicides, foeticide or illegal abortion to name but a few.
  • Too bad the disease seemed endless. Too bad these walls are seemingly unbreakable. But there’s a way to break down these walls. Because we have a very strong wiil, we will find the way. The way is through their bricks. We will attack the wall brick by brick. Brick by brick the wall falls down until the entire dowry and brideprice walls are gone.
  • You are the brick. Reform and bury forever these bad practices of the marital system. With you burying these systems forever and so do with all the couples in your community will produce a domino effect in the total eradication of these cancers. The disease is in you. Stop the practice and let their ugly heads rear no more.

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