Why Some Indian Families Are Returning Dowries

Why Some Indian Families Are Returning Dowries.

A campaign is underway in India to curtail the sometimes-harsh wedding dowry payment practice that was outlawed more than 50 years ago. Volunteers with the Dahez Roko Abhiyan work with families to counsel against the practice and offer alternatives. Although this initiative which began in 2016 appears limited to the Muslim community, the intention is to see it more widely accepted by the larger Hindu population.

The Dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. The system is thought to put great financial burden on the bride’s family. In some cases, it leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional abuse, injury to even deaths. The payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws including, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 article 3 specifies that the penalty for giving or taking dowry does not apply to presents which are given at the time of a marriage to the bride or bridegroom, when no demand for them have been made. Although Indian laws against dowries have been in effect for decades, they have been largely criticised as being ineffective. The practice of dowry deaths and murders continues to take place unchecked in many parts of India and this has further added to the concerns of enforcement.

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