Dowry System in India: The Indian Constitution and Secularism

Dowry System


The practice of giving dowry is common in our country. Dowry is the money or gifts given to a daughter by her parents at the time of her marriage. Unfortunately, this has become a social problem. The family of the boy demands large sums of money from the girl�s parents. For this reason, the birth of a daughter is often considered a curse in our society. She is considered as a financial burden on the family. The boy�s family considers it as their right to make demands and a lot of unpleasantness is caused at the time and even after marriage. Sometimes people even refuse to go through with the marriage if they feel they are not getting enough dowries.


The girl is very often tortured by the husband and his family for bringing insufficient dowry. Sometimes they are compelled to commit suicide to escape ill-treatment. Worse still, people even resort to murder to do away with a bride who has not brought enough dowry. Dowry deaths have become a very serious problem in our society.


Steps were taken for improvement


Various legislative safeguards have been introduced over the past fifteen years to combat this problem. But the tragic truth is, that martial and domestic violence including dowry deaths have continued to grow and spread. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961 but it has not been effectively implemented. It was further amended in 1986. Under this law, a person who is convicted can be imprisoned for not less than five years and fined upto fifteen thousand rupees or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.


Women�s organizations have been making efforts to draw people�s attention to this problem. Newspapers, television, radio, and films are being used to spread consciousness against this practice. Voluntary agencies organize dharnas, processions, public meetings, and street plays. Strong public opinion needs to be created against it.


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