Dowry system was prohibited by law in India in 1961. It is an offense punishable with imprisonment and fine or without fine. But the laws against dowries in India have been largely criticized and this is nothing new in India when it comes to crime against women. This is one reason why the dowry system is still so prevalent around the country.
Dowry system not only hugely let to financial burden on the bride’s family but also often leads to death of women after marriage. Most of the deaths are reported to be suicide by young women unable to bear the harassment and torture by her husband and in laws. Sometimes the woman is murdered, often times by burning her alive by her husband and in laws. Sometimes the murder is disguised as suicide or accident.
One such crime was reported just this year by Times of India on 30th January. A thirty year old woman called Babe was burnt alive for dowry. The accused, her husband and his family members ran away from the spot. The case is registered against but when will she get justice and others like her? This is just one case and there are many others. Also, most of the cases go unreported. A woman goes through cruelty and domestic violence in the hands of her own husband and his families. Such abuse on woman causes emotional trauma, depression and suicide. Despite such offenses committed repeatedly year by year, the laws have remained ineffective in giving the victims justice. Those who commit the crime of dowry perhaps don’t fear law because most of these kinds of criminals don’t get convicted and get away in the very presence of the law in the country.
The law being ineffective is one reason that the dowry system is still prevalent. Another reason: those vicious people who take advantage of the law, particularly section 498A IPC. Such acts of some women put the risk of the law punishing an innocent. Those people not only make a mockery of the law but they are also inflicting huge pain and damage to the victims of dowry system and her family.
A bride and her family giving gifts during the marriage, with willingness is a completely different story. But demanding the dowry is wrong and wrong, unlawful and outright misdeed. The dowry-related crime is committed by men and families irrespective of whether they are literate or not. Dowry deaths are found predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran by the reports. According to the Indian National Crime Record Bureau, India has by a great amount the highest number of dowry-related deaths in the world. In addition to that, to know that some cases even go unreported, this truth is horrifying.
Can changes be made? Yes, it can be changed. First, the law needs to be really effective so that people fear the law. Men and women committing dowry crime as well as those misusing of laws prohibiting the dowry system; all those people needs to be convicted. People should obey the law and morality. Secondly, educate and educate people and youths and not just make them a literate person. Just being literate will not change the mindsets because sometimes even people who cannot read and write are very well educated. Education, literally and morally is what will change the mindsets.