In India and most parts of the world, lack of marriage or a proposal to a woman is perceived as a defect in the astrological chart. At a given stage in the life of a woman, there should be a ceremony taking place regarding her getting married to a man either from the native land or another country. Different countries have distinguished cultural definition of marriage. However, it is no doubt that every marriage will involve a form of dowry whose purpose is defined differently in various states. As other countries consider the dowry from the mans family to that of the bride, Indias dowry is different with the bride expected to deliver jewellery and money to the grooms parents. In India, the culture is profound with it being practised in almost every homestead. The transnational wedding in India, which is characterised by negotiations and decisions, has several defects which are majorly known to affect women. Moreover, other cultural structures such as the preference for sons in marriage are also indicators of how the society undervalues women. While marriage is considered an essential stage in life, the issue of dowry and the nature of negotiations should be reconsidered as they are noted to be the principal causes of neglect, physical violence and coercive control in marriages.
There have been debates over the years regarding the dowry system in India. Several theories have been put forward to expound on the traditions of marriage and dowry systems origins. One theory outlines that, historically, it is the duty of the brides family to provide jewellery and other household items to the groom which has later evolved to a sum of money. Another theory alleges that as the daughters are given away, the grooms are offered several gifts which act as a security to fair treatment of the woman. The amount of money provided to the groom is dependent on his education and social class. According to Claire on the changes that happened during the Middle Ages, fathers were looking to ensure a strong family bloodline paying top price for grooms of good ancestry (Claire 2). Claire points out that the motive of marriage changed with people now concentrating on how strong a family regards financial stability, ancestral origin and social status. From this, it can be depicted that one of the main causes of violence in Indian marriages is a lack of sufficient dowry by the brides family.
Indian dowry system has several issues and concerns regarding how women are treated. Primary concern is the issue of bride burning which Claire defines it as the act of maiming or even killing the brides whose families cannot or will not meet a grooms dowry demands (Claire 3). Several statistics shows that despite the government and other human rights groups intervention, the practice has seen a high number of deaths related to dowry. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there was a total of 8,391 dowry-related deaths in 2010 in India (Claire 3). The brides family are also subjected to financial strain which arises from the high cost of wedding ceremony which is catered for by the bride. Anitha et al. agree to this when they write Alongside a large dowry was the equally problematic expectation of a carefully orchestrated and suitably lavish wedding ceremony, hosted and paid for by the brides family (Anitha et al. 10). From this, the authors ascertain the heavy burden incurred by the wifes family regarding the marriage.
Several studies have been done to determine the effect of the dowry system in India. Major concerns of the dowry system in this country are neglect, coercive control and physical violence. All women in this situation experienced neglect, coercive control and many women experienced physical experience (Anitha et al. 12). From this statement, the authors are referring to the two-fifth of Indian women who had migrated as a result of marriage. In a marriage where the man is from a different country, abandonment was common in three-fifths of the women interviewed in the research. From the speedily arranged marriage and dowry exchange, the husband departs for his residence country leaving his wife with the in laws. This is usually in line with the Indian socio cultural norms of the bride moving to the husband family once the marriage has taken place. Abandonment, in this case, results from the daily escalating violence between the wife and her in-laws who may go to an extent of demanding the dowry transfers. The human rights, gender and environment are of the opinion The mother-in-law, sister-in-law nexus along with an unsympathetic husband to make life a living hell for them (human rights, gender & environment 24). In other words, human rights, gender and environment believe that the man and his family work together in harassing the wife. The husband maintains communication but only for short while after which it trails off. Eventually, the wife is thrown out or left which is made worse by the husband initiating expatriate divorce while in his country of residence. The main reason for marriage as depicted from such a scenario is that the man married the woman as a result of pressure from the parents, and several benefits but not the need to have a companion.
An interesting aspect of the dowry systems is how men control their wives after marriage. While other women report being denied the right to move such as attending festivals and weddings, other illustrates how their husbands use these festivals to demean them. Anitha et al. write coercive control is devastating because through sustained and often small acts, the control tactics serve to attack a womans individual liberty, agency and autonomy (Anitha et al. 13). Through several examples, this statement shows how women have not power in making decisions after marriage and most of the things they do are guided and initiated by the men. One illustration is when a man forces the wife to take alcohol. Once she is inebriated, the husband calls her parents and from the conversation, he can prove on his wife wicked behaviours that are false. The husband allegations are convincing to the wifes parents despite her complaints of the abuse she is facing. Additionally, some women feel that their culture and religion is challenged once they are forced by their husbands to take alcohol while conforming to the westernised wife life (Gupta 98). This becomes a shame for defying their culture, gender norms and religious beliefs.
In conclusion, while marriage remains an important stage in the life of every individual, Indias statistics shows that the dowry system is the principal cause of violence against women, coercive control and neglect. Different from other countries such as the Arab countries where the dowry is taken to the bride by the groom, India dowry system is characterised by the brides family taking jewellery and money to the groom as a sign of securing a fair treatment to their daughters. This has changed since the middle ages with the brides parents struggling to marry off their daughters to men of a high social class, wealth and great ancestral bloodline. Several studies have been done on the effect of Indias dowry system with the results showing thousands of death from dowry-related incidence. Families that do not have the ability to pay the hefty dowry and cater for the expensive wedding ceremony subject their daughters to a challenge in getting a husband whose results are marrying them off to other people and bride burning. Physical violence is also a major concern alongside coercive control and abandonment of women by their spouses.
Human rights, gender & environment. 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.
Anitha, Sundari, Anupama Roy, and Harshita Yalamarty. "Disposable women: abuse, violence and abandonment in transnational marriages: issues for policy and practice in the UK and India." British Academy, 2016.
Claire. The dowry system | chances. RESET.to, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.
Gupta, -Nidhi. WOMENS HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE PRACTICE OF DOWRY IN INDIA ADAPTING A GLOBAL DISCOURSE TO LOCAL DEMANDS 1. 2006. Web. 13 July 2016.
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