Bingo! I was waiting for this topic to come up. I just had an inkling that Aamir Khan would delve into the darkness of the dowry system at some point in his series. It was sooner than I thought but what a great show.
80% of bank loans are taken by people to meet dowry demands? One woman dies every hour in India in dowry related cases. Dowry became prohibited by law in 1961 yet that’s not a barrier for many a greedy family of the groom. I mean, if those statistics don’t ruffle some feathers, then things are seriously wrong!
We all know that the dirty word “dowry” exists in our society. We can’t run away from it because the vultures of society have dug their hooks deep into our flesh and are refusing to let go. But I don’t think that word held such horrific connotations many many years ago.
Lets actually look back and see the sensibility and the rational thinking about the dowry system and where it stemmed from. Quoted from our ever reliable source of information Wikipedia
“In India, dowry (known as Dahej in Hindi) is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom’s family along with the bride. Generally they include cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the newly-wed set up her home. Dowry originated in rich families as insurance to the bride to take care of herself and her children during financial crisis.”
So in fact, there was some logic in the system. In times when women were not so well-educated or riding high on success in their careers, this was the way for parents of the bride to ensure that their daughter would still be looked after and remain independent to a degree, in case misfortune was lurking around the corner.
However money is the root of all evil and where this ” insurance” for the daughter was the initial beneficial thought behind the parent’s offerings, things have become so twisted these days. A simple goodwill gesture has become so misconstrued, and misunderstood which means that we now live with statistics such as those mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
Todays modern woman has her cake and can eat it too. She is highly educated, career orientated, focussed and earning a good living for herself as well as being a good wife and mother. Things have moved on. Thinking has altered and India is supposed to be growing with the times. If a man can earn $65000 a year according to the episode aired, then belive me todays woman can earn equal if not more. So why is this system still prevalent in our society? What are we trying to prove by showing to the world that no expense is being spared at weddings that are getting more and more ridiculously lavish and where the list of demands from the grooms household is entertained and acted upon so openly? Sure I know, the argument is, if you have the money then why not flaunt it? Why not promise an extravagant shopping spree for the groom and family if we can afford it? But what is that telling those less fortunate people who cannot commit to the same? It’s such a scrupulous game of status and class system which leaves those who can’t participate left to deal with cases that we saw on the show. Women being tortured, mistreated, families bein torn apart , deceit and mistrust plaguing the lives of women who simply look for a hand to hold through this important phase of her life?
It’s akin to an “ebay” system. Put in the highest bid and take home the prize possession, a commodity which is no different from the cars, fridges, microwaves, televisions etc that are brought into the grooms house after marriage. But surely the bride is much more than a mere commodity!
There will never be a solution to this issue because as long as our society is governed by status, by how much wealth one has, what to show off to the outside world, then these criminal acts are going to continue.
But I ask you, what sounds better? Spreading yourself too thin, taking on debt after debt to spend so much on a daughter’s wedding, on the groom and his family without the security that her married life is going to be a worthwhile experience? Torturing yourself on wondering how happy our daughters are in their homes after marriage? Mortgaging your life to the hilt to pay for a stranger who may not be a safe bet in the end?
Or simply spending that money in ensuring your daughter is educated, independent even before she steps over the threshold and enters the home of her husband and allowing her to prove her value thereafter, rather than placing a monetary value on her via the dowry system?
To know that your daughter is being loved for herself by her husband and in-laws and not for the shopping basket she brings along with her in her suitcase has to be the top of the priority right? Or is it to feed the greed further and give your life away literally to sustain the demands of the family into which your precious child walks into.
Dont misunderstand me! Gifting your daughter to make her life better is not the crime. All parents want to do the best that they can when their daughters are to be married. But the minute the bride’s family pick up at any point, that the groom’s family are going in for the kill and are showing their true colours, then they need to have the courage to break away from the society’s pressures and threat of shame and take ten steps back. The only way that the problem associated with the dowry system is to face it with courage and tackle it head on and not to succumb to its pressures. Walk away. By doing so you set the example for other women to walk that road by example and slowly but surely, the system will have to change……