My father’s sister describes wistfully, a silver Lemon Set her mother gave her when she got married. She resents that her mother in law passed the Lemon Set (along with other things) to her husband’s sister in her dowry. This silver Lemon Set had originally been a part of my mother’s dowry.
I ask my mother if she didn’t mind her things being taken away like this, but she says this was very common. A girl’s dowry traditionally belongs to her husband’s family.
There is a custom in some places where the trousseau is critically examined by the in laws and the girls in the new family pick whatever they like from the new bride’s possessions.
This sort of thing does not happen with inheritance. The inheritance belongs to the inheritors, legally and socially.
One hears of comparisons between Inheritance and Dowry.
I feel the biggest difference is one empowers while the other puts the lives of 50% of the population at risk. Right from the moment they are found to be females.
Unlike a Will, the dowry is wealth given away while the parents are still alive, whether or not they can afford it. This makes girl children unwelcome.
Inheritance on the other hand, can be used by the parents to ensure a comfortable old age. It gives them something to bargain with. They have a choice in when, how and to whom they part with it. This empowers them.
A friend once argued that since the girls get their husband’s property, it is balanced. What happens when a girl doesn’t marry? What if she is divorced or widowed? An unmarried, divorced or widowed woman maybe seen as an outsider in her parental home.
Girls who inherit are in a much better position socially. They are not considered a liability. They have the same rights and responsibilities as the male children. (Legally it is mandatory for all children to take care of their parents even now.)
Do you think dowry, jewellery and other gifts on festivals are a fair compensation for disinheriting or disowning a family member?