Do Indian men benefit from being married in exchange of dowry?

This post is a continued response to the – Ramblings of a Henpecked Husband in the previous post.

Dowry is not given by the bride to the groom, it is given by the bride’s parents to the groom’s parents (Or occasionally to the groom).

Generally the groom has little direct say in dowry-negotiations and it is common for the parents to choose an incompatible match for better dowry. One also hears of arranged marriages where a son  defied the parents and insisted on marrying a woman whose parents gave lesser dowry, such brides often face resentment in their marital homes as they are life long reminders of the financial loss they caused the husband’s family, the same thing can happen when men have ‘love-marriages’.

Grooms who are likely to fetch a bigger dowry are generally less free to choose their own partners, because the parents look forward to receiving larger compensation for their efforts in his success. Grooms who have sisters face similar pressures, because the dowries received in their marriages are often used as their sisters’ dowries.

Another way in which dowry becomes a problem for Indian men is that worrying about her dowry prevents an bride’s parents from focusing on the daughter’s self reliance, which makes it difficult for an Indian woman to marry for love. One hears about women who did not marry a man they would have loved to share their life with because he was not seen as a good provider. So, men who would have made great artists, singers, photographers, painters etc are pushed into more acceptable careers.

Another way dowry affects Indian men if they have sisters is that they are expected to help the parents with dowry expenses from their earnings, often also from their wife’s earnings (and her dowry). Indian women are taught to see this as their duty to support the husband’s responsibilities towards providing dowry and life long support for their sisters (just like their own brothers and their spouse do for them).

Dowry is also a big reason why women are discouraged from seeking  divorce. Indian women’s parents’ life long savings are spent on their dowries, this too indirectly affects men who may want an amicable divorce.

Some Indians seem to see dowry as a payment for supporting a financially dependent wife, but that doesn’t make sense, because in most parts of the world it’s the groom who pays ‘Bride Price’ (again not to the wife but to her parents).

Take a look.

Thailand

“Unlike India, where the bride’s family pays a dowry to the groom to recognize that he will provide for his wife, in Thailand it’s the other way round. The Thai groom pays “Sin Sod” (or dowry) to prove to the bride’s family that he will be a good provider….

… since he was going to be the breadwinner, the dowry was important to prove that he would be a good one.

…some parents like to demand a costly dowry purely to save face or to show off.” [Thai dowries change with the times - By NBC's Warangkana Chomchuen]

And this sounds so much like India, only here the bride’s mother is being paid,

“The groom is in effect ‘paying for the mother’s milk’ or the upbringing of his bride. It also goes to show that the groom is financially capable of looking after his wife and indeed, his wife’s family if needs be.” [http://www.watdee.com/sinsod.html]

Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa and Central Asia

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_price]

A recent case in Uganda has brought international attention and outrage to the abuse of brides due to the practice of bride prices. Photographs were published of a wife being forced to breastfeed her husband’s puppies, because as he pointed out, he had to give his cows to her parents as her bride price. Furthermore, there is a prevailing attitude among Ugandan men that since they have paid a price for their wives, they are their property, to be treated in any way that they like. The recent news …has sparked a movement to eliminate the custom of the bride price in Uganda. [http://seabastian.hubpages.com/hub/LoveForSale]

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Iran, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Surging dowries and the skyrocketing costs of living amid constricting economic opportunities … have placed a heavy burden on Bahraini men contemplating marriage.

…Men with less financial means are forced to turn to their poorer neigbouring countries …

Bahraini national Ahmed Juma, 44, was forced to travel to Iran to look for a potential wife after three Bahraini women nixed his offer of marriage because he could not afford their expected dowries. There he finally met his wife.

“I paid less than 5,000 U.S. dollars, which covered my trip, the dowry and the wedding,” he told IPS. There were no extravagant wedding rites, just a simple dinner to introduce his bride to family members.[Escalating Dowries Take Toll on Men By Suad Hamada]

China

“Normally, The bride’s parents will ask the future son-in-law to give a dowry of between 10,000 to 100,000 yuan. The young wife said that the dowry does not mean the parents are selling their daughter. It is a sign of respect for the bride’s parents, and it also helps them financially if they are poor…

…if no dowry is asked, the bride’s parents may ask the future son-in-law to buy his bride an apartment or house instead.” [link]


Saudi Arabia

In what is largely considered a sign of increasing awareness among Saudi women, brides-to-be have started to focus more on divorce settlement than on dowry details in order to secure their financial rights in case of separation, local media reported Wednesday.

This trend has also proved beneficial to the girls’ suitors. Young men starting their lives are happy to put less money in a dowry as this lightens their conjugal financial burden, the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh reported. [http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/02/24/101351.html]

Do you think young Indian men benefit from accepting or demanding dowry? Do they have something to gain from refusing to accept dowry – or are they expected to oppose it only because it is ethically and legally wrong?

Related posts:

Love for Sale: Dowries and Bride Prices - By Seabastian

Thai dowries change with the times – By NBC’s Warangkana Chomchuen

Dowry and Bride Price

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance? – Indian Homemaker

China’s “Leftover” Women

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107 thoughts on “Do Indian men benefit from being married in exchange of dowry?

  1. This is a very interesting post. I think this mandatory inclusion of bride price or dowry in a marriage is one sure way to ensure it all goes downhill from the beginning. Each marriage has it’s own economic dynamics but demanding money for getting married ought not to be a criteria for marriage either way. A prenup contract is more useful if a partner really wants to be sure that he / she isn’t taken for a ride in case of a separation. And giving of money to parents of the couple is simply stupid, and serves no purpose.

      • I know of a family where the son wanted to marry on his own. On making this announcement to his parents, the dad told him, “son, place 8 lakhs on the table towards your two sisters’ dowry, and then do what you want”. The boy had no choice.

        In the north-eastern belt it is common for parents to use their son in exchange for a son-in-law. This practice is called ‘golat’. The son is kept on hold till the youngest sister is married off. This is just in case the sister is unable to find a groom . Many a times a girl is unable to find a groom either because the family can’t afford the demanded dowry, or the girl is not up to the mark (according the groom’s family) in terms of looks. Girls are kept cloistered at homes and venture out only to go to college, school or coaching classes and that too with their dads or brothers escorting them. Even the shopping is done by the male members. How can a girl in these restrictive conditions find her own husband?

        • I thought many societies in the north-east (in Sikkim and Nagaland especially), were quite egalitarian wrt dowry.

          Good to know that’s not entirely true.

        • A lot of North Eastern tribes, have a surplus of young women, which means there has to be some kind of ‘bargaining chip’ to get daughters married off, particularly if she isn’t very good looking.

  2. Interesting take on the matter and gives glimpse on why certain laws fail to make any impact on the society when fundamental functioning of population is ignored. The systems around the union of man and woman vary across countries depending on the society and the way it functions- how the male , female roles are defined, what is the emphasis of the society to protect and sustain itself when competing with other societies , what the skill levels are, of its people. Normally evolving societies or civilizations defined roles around basic needs and had practices build around it , for peaceful existence and survival of majority of its population. In evolved societies practices (and laws) again vary based on the needs of their people.

    Most laws and practices change over time in all the societies as they evolve. Even in India there are families that take money in exchange for the girl- Have heard of poor brides being bought by farmers in Punjab belt. Brides being sold to Arab grooms is also a fact here.We are all aware about what it signifies. Does this practice in any way raise the status of the woman involved? make her any more empowered? My take is that this is a practice of primitive society build around meeting basic needs. We must also not forget that the practice of bride price in the countries of mid east exists along with relaxation on limit for the number of wives allowed as well as unlimited relaxation on divorce right exercised by the Husband (the procedure for wives seeking divorce is surprisingly tough even in these societies). Thailand , to me appear perfectly empowering to the women and it will be interesting to most , to check the systems prevalent around unions of man and woman there. The present prime minister of thailand is not legally wedded to her companion, yet able to function with full respect, honour and privileges due to a woman, in the society.

    Dowry exists in India along with strict divorce laws as well as legally enforced monogamy.
    Dowry is not found in societies with relaxed laws either on divorce or number of partners allowed.

        • Even if they have sisters and daughters, they benefit…Why? Because the dowry they get from their wives or DILs is used as dowry for their daughters or sisters…They have to come up with less money from other sources…It’s free money i.e. money they haven’t earned or borrowed…

        • hear hear @PT.
          Marriage is indeed more than a spreadsheet listing monetary and remaining contributions. The day people start marrying for love and companionship, instead of for any other reason, I guess half our problems related to marriage will go away!

      • I will put demanding dowry on the same plank as demanding bribes. However i would not blame the people involved but the underlying system that is creating scarcity of resources or rather unequal distribution of resources, the patriarchal system that sells the imagery of happily married ever life to little girls. I doubt if the parents who demand dowry actually pocket it. perhaps they say they invested it in the newly married couple’s future or in their other relationships (like you said- for the daughters’ marriages’ etc.). Mostly I think the demand is to weed out prospects that are not equal or higher to them in status. In our country , individuals have to fend out for themselves with very little support from the government or institutions to eek out a respectable living and care during the twilight years. Building strong ties (thru marriage) is one common way to ensure survival and prosperity of the whole family or families.

        • Umm, if dowry is a form of old age security, then where does that leave parents who only have daughters?

          Our male-favouring marriage customs are the biggest reason behind our falling sex ratios and obsession with sons.

          If men keep demanding dowries, our sex ratios will continue to fall and life for future generations of women will be even more difficult.

          There are villages in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab where women are so scarce that families “import” women from eastern or southern states.

          No, dowry is a pernicious social evil and there is NO justification for it.

          You argue that it is compensation for supporting financially dependant women.

          By that logic, wives should be paid for every meal they cook, for housework, childcare, elder care and sex.

          A woman carries a child for nine months, breastfeeds it and cares for it. What price should a man pay for these tasks?

          By that yardstick, how expensive will wives become?

        • Biwo, let me try and answer your questions from the perspective of the average Indian male.

          //Umm, if dowry is a form of old age security, then where does that leave parents who only have daughters?//

          Well, too bad for them that God did not bless them with a son. Bad karma catching up with them, maybe?

          //Our male-favouring marriage customs are the biggest reason behind our falling sex ratios and obsession with sons.//

          Why should that concern me?

          //If men keep demanding dowries, our sex ratios will continue to fall and life for future generations of women will be even more difficult.//

          So be it. Why should I be bothered about how difficult the lives of future generations of women will be?

          //There are villages in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab where women are so scarce that families “import” women from eastern or southern states.//

          What’s wrong with importing women?

          //No, dowry is a pernicious social evil and there is NO justification for it.//

          You think so, I don’t.

          //You argue that it is compensation for supporting financially dependant women.
          By that logic, wives should be paid for every meal they cook, for housework, childcare, elder care and sex.//

          No, they get paid in the form of the security that marriage provides them with.

          //A woman carries a child for nine months, breastfeeds it and cares for it. What price should a man pay for these tasks?//

          What!!! They were meant to become mothers one day. Why should the man have to even think of paying her for it. Aren’t the joys of motherhood compensation enough?

          All this to say that the average Indian male suffers from tunnel vision and it is pointless to reason with him :-(

        • By that yardstick, how expensive will wives become?

          One of the more refined estimates I found put it at approximately $144,000 for a newlywed housewife in the US South, with a compounded 5% ($7200) increase for every consecutive year that she is married (to allow for inflation and the fact that more experienced workers command higher salaries).

          This is thirty nine times India’s mean per capita income in purchasing power parity terms, and twenty one times the median income of Delhi (in PPP Dollars). If 21 middle-class Delhiites pooled together every last penny they earned, they’d be able to afford one wife. Of course, this would be at the expense of having no money left over for food, clothes, housing and other basic necessities, so they wouldn’t be able to use their wife’s cooking and cleaning skills.

          All of this is pretty interesting and all, but personally, there’s just one thing I tend to tell the dowry apologists : My wife is invaluable, regardless of the contributions she makes to the house (monetary or otherwise). It is impossible to put a monetary value on unwavering companionship in a harsh world. Compared to that, money and housework are both laughably trivial issues.

          Marriage is a lot more than a balance sheet.

        • In a family with two sons , if one DIL brings a huge dowry and the other does not, there is a huge difference in the way both DILs are treated. The DIL who has not brought a dowry is made to compensate in other ways like becoming a “kolhu ka bail”and becoming a punching bag to every inlaw/outlaw. All this with the husband/son’s tacit consent.

      • I wanted to reply to PT’s comment below, but somehow my comment is appearing here.

        btw, very interesting post. I guess, the day parents start saving for their daughter’s education and her dreams, instead of saving for her marriage, dowry will stop. It is less work for parents too, if you think about it. Groom (or bride) hunting is a difficult task. It takes up a lot of time, patience and money to find a decent enough groom/bride. Add to the fact that most arranged marriages involve dowry.
        So much more easier if the parents educate their children and just leave it upto them to find the right companion for themselves. And they are free to enjoy their retirement, because they would not have spent all that money in lavish weddings, presents and dowry. A girl’s parents would benefit from not-giving-dowry, hence I think it is easier for the change to come from their side.
        Personally, my mother was thrilled when I told her that I have chosen my partner and that she does not have to do ‘groom hunting’ on my behalf. Mom is a real rebel (for her generation) and has always told us kids that she is not going to keep up with all the useless traditions of giving and receiving gifts everytime we visit her or she visits us. Whatever we do for each other, must come from the heart and not because that thing is “meant to be done as per traditions”. And that is what marriage must be: for love and companionship. The minute we start calculating how much we are going to benefit from it, it loses its essence.

      • I think Biwo made a good point about sex ratios to counter Neeti’s argument. Yes, there are practical and economic conditions that shape social institutions like marriage and the customs surrounding them. But the declining sex ratio, if not the human rights violations women in particular are subject to, as a result of a dowry-driven marriage market should push society to change. Just as society has taboos against certain practices (like incest) to ensure the continuation of the species, it is time now to put a taboo on practices like dowry which lead to an adverse sex ratio.

  3. I would say no man or woman would benefit from dowry paid from them. However, I am curious to know a “modern” Indian man’s take on this.

    Also, along with abolishing dowry, the socities should move towards sharing the wedding bills equally among the bride and the grooms side if not for the bride and the groom themselves. This will not only lead to reduce in the unnessary/unreasonable demands from the groom’s side during wedding, but also empower more women to make firm decisions on separation as their parents’ entire life savings would not be gone!

    • It is common to find Indian men who pretend to be modern in their ideas, but what lies beneath could be a big contradiction.

      • Bingo.

        I think many Indian men think marriage is an entitlement and a right. They are very conscious of their priveleges and fearful of losing them.

        They do not see marriage as a collaborative effort at all and genuinely believe that their interests should always be serve.

  4. It really doesn’t matter who benefits, who pays to whom and where the money goes. The fact still remains, that there are places in this world where a marriage is more of a monetary transaction than an emotional union – and this is wrong regardless of where it happens.

    If only parents cared as much about their children’s well-being and safety as they do care about money, we would see less of pathological family arrangements and wasted lives.

  5. This post is very relevant, imo Indian men lose a lot by demanding dowry or letting their parents demand it. It narrows down their chances of finding a suitable partner, it makes many profession/activities(it maybe their dream ..) which are not considered stable/safe/secure in terms of finance out of bounds for them, in some sections of society this custom still encourages women to be dependent on them and thus burdens them as sole breadwinners (they may not enjoy such anxiety, who would not love to have a true partner in the sense that…If I fail, my partner can help me tide over rough times or that there is a backup still) .
    They get very little choice to find a truly compatible partner in terms of things that matter in everyday life .. it is just which girl can bring the most dowry or whose parents are most influential in society etc.
    Most new brides will harbor at least a bit of resentment/remorse over the dowry and huge wedding expenses her parents had to bear because more often than not groom’s side don’t have to spend so much and get treated like royalty during the wedding itself. So, the guy is already starting the married life on the wrong foot. Just imagine what a happy and proud bride/partner they can begin their life with if both sides pitch in equally , respect each other equally and no side has to go overboard with expenses that feel burdening. My cousin sister was v. upset over a last-minute demand for a car by groom’s parents, though her husband said he did not have any say in it… they have a happy family now but even years later she can’t forget this incident.
    Most imp. of all , it forces them many-a-times to choose between following their dreams and having a family. This is grossly unfair to any human being. If social conditioning still makes men think it is to their benefit ….. all I can say is they don’t know what they’re missing.

    • So true Bijaya. The rewards are tangible, the compromises are intangible. I think this is the reason why people have a cognitive bias about it. :)

    • I feel taking dowry can never be beneficial for a boy. The boy (whose parents have taken dowry) has no choice but to tolerate the nonsense dished out to him after marriage. Papaji (girl’s father) could start abusing him and he would have to stand with folded hands. FILs could have great leverage over the son-in-law when they hand over outrageous sums as dowry. Many boys become “ghar jamais” too.And where has the dowry gone? Either for funding the boy’s sister’s dowry or into the boy’s parents’ pocket. What has the boy gained? He has been sold by his mercenary parents.

  6. Depends on what you actually mean by dowry. Of course, guys parents negotiating dowry is wrong, but I have never seen it happening here in Pakistani Punjabi middle class families. Parents do give out of their own will, not necessarily at wedding time, and almost always directly to the daughter, and that can not be condemned. The thing is that parents start distributing their assets in their life, and giving to daughter can easily be taken as dowry, although she always still end up getting lesser share than the brothers. You may still ask why do they feel compelled to give only after the daughter is married. In my observation, sons also start getting this share usually after getting married, but not always. Usually the criterion is when the son is showing signs of being capable of financial management and independence. That is usually not expected from a girl, so having a financial manager ( husband ) by her side seems to be the appropriate time.

    • Haha, I knew I will get thumbs down for this harmless comment. Essentially, the one giving a thumbs down doesn’t believe that girls have a right in their parents wealth.

      • “having a financial manager ( husband ) by her side seems to be the appropriate time”
        In one sentence you’ve already revealed your patriarchal thought process. It’s amazing what kind of twisted logic dowry supporters will come up with in order to justify this selfish and harmful deed.

        • My thoughts, patriarchal or otherwise, are not relevant here. I was describing the thinking of parents.

      • I’m a girl, and yes, I do believe that neither my brother nor I have a “right” to my parents wealth. It is theirs to use as they please, and there are no expectations that they’ll “distribute” their wealth to their children. They spent enough of their resources on our Education, and helped us become financially independent. Whether they bequeath their holdings to us, or choose to dispose of it all and go on a world tour with the money is their business.

        And girls don’t need their husbands to be “financial managers”.We have perfectly functional brains, and can “manage” our own money.

      • Instead of giving dowry, would it not be better that a daughter inherit an equal share in the parents’ wealth, property?

  7. This comment is irrelevant here, but there was this news about a baby girl battered to death because the father wanted a boy. I am seething! The man does not deserve to have babies. Just wanted to know if we could do something to maximise his punishment.

    • Baby Pari or Bhoomi was left abandoned in the Janmabhoomi Express. A battered Baby Falak died of cardiac arrest after being admitted with a fractured skull, bruises and human bite marks all
      over her body. Baby Afreen brutally killed by her father for not being a boy.And we take great pride in our culture! A culture that discriminates between the genders from birth to death.Each one of us should do our bit in contributing to change….change in the way we view our girls.

  8. Young people would be surprised about how much economics is involved in Indian marriages. It is basically run like a business. Hell, IT IS BUSINESS.

    I think all of us more or less understand and at least in principle, accept that dowry is bad. I don’t understand what makes the girl’s parents volunteer to give dowry even in these times, especially when there is a law prohibiting them to? Ok, they may not volunteer, but why do they give in to the artificial pressure created by the grooms side to give dowry?

    I feel that one of the biggest reason for the existence of this stupid practice (many people object to this, as they live using the money gained from dowry and inheritance) is the presence of relatives, who play the role of match makers and whose commission depends on the amount of dowry negotiated. I think we should first stop paying these middle men, who claim to arrange the best match based on the interests/horoscopes of the boys/girls but actually indulge in money laundering.

    I wonder how this concept of paying relatives for referring a prospective groom/bride came about? I am not sure if this is common in North, but in South (at least on the eastern side) this seems to be quite a common way to amass a huge commission. I know how professional marriage brokers (who are not relatives) operate, and they seem to be much better. If we cut off the relatives from the marriage practice and make the grooms parents directly talk to the girls parents from the beginning, the stupid system of dowry might find less takers. Of course, it may not be eliminated, but it is a good first step.

    Destination Infinity

    • I wasn’t aware of this paying commission to relatives for arranging marriages! Though I know of cases where someone helped in finding a groom in exchange for some favour in kind ( recommendation for job etc.) .
      In North, it is pretty common for relatives to suggest suitable grooms/brides and if a suggestion results in successful union in marriage.. for them to always sing about it or expect special treatment.

      • A family was trying to get their daughter married. A female acquaintance offered to get them a groom for their daughter in exchange of a kinetic Honda and a gold chain. All this after giving dowry to the groom’s family and heavy expenditure for the wedding. The groom in consideration happened to be the acquaintance’s brother.This information was not revealed. It was discovered.

      • My husband is Malyalee and I know for a fact that one of his cousins’s families based in Kerala paid a matchmaker a commission for finding the daughter a groom. The commission is based on the dowry, not sure how. My Mil said it’s very common.

        • A ‘matchmaker’. is a businessman, a marriage broker. He/she IS paid for services of matchmaking. I live in Kerala and am a Mallu. My question relates to paying ‘relatives’.

      • Well, often the ‘matchmaker’ would be a relative or a friend. But they still get paid. It’s like being a real estate broker, I guess. Being a relative doesn’t mean you do this for free. I still find it distateful because it was somehow linked to dowry and the sense I got was of the matchmaker bidding the price of the dowry up as it affected the compensation he/she received. Not sure about that last bit though.

        • Matchmakers play God by bringing two families together. In a close knit society, especially where relatives play the role of matchmaking, people have been known to take revenge on their siblings by getting them a less than desirable groom. Is this not enough reason not to use the services or help of matchmakers? This job should never be outsourced to anyone.

    • I asked a couple of my friends here and they say that it doesn’t happen in their families. I guess it should not be a common practice then. But it is very much happening in certain business-based communities in South Andhra/ North TN as far as I know. It should be community (caste) specific, I guess. Of course, by now, all of you would have guessed that it is my community. Even though I hate my own community, I really can’t reveal the name – Please don’t ask LOL :D

      Destination Infinity

    • As a native North Indian, I can attest that North Indian society has its own issues. One of the biggest issues is its mind-bogglingly ostentatious flavor.

      People literally end up bankrupting themselves, in a particularly nauseating form of keeping up with the Joneses.

      When my younger sister got married, my suave, worldly, highly-educated, cosmopolitan parents spent a small fortune (over the couple’s strenous objections) just to prove that they were richer than others in their circle. The dowry included, but was not limited to, an SUV for dear son-in-law (which they literally bludgeoned him into accepting), a refrigerator, air conditioners, assorted appliances, linen, blankets, quilts and full furnishings for a two-bedroom apartment. No prizes for guessing who purchased the apartment.

      When the two families met up for the first Diwali after the marriage, fireworks were ordered from bulk retailers – they were enough in number to warrant hiring a small lorry just to transport them.

      On the first anniversary, a sedan was gifted to the SIL, who promptly handed it over to my sister.

      They do not tire of making smug, condescending remarks about the poor fellow’s folks (who presumably could not afford an SUV), nor do they tire of expressing disapproval for the fact that my sister works outside the home – according to them, this does not reflect well on the husband and his family.

      To be honest, none of this spending was an insurmountable drain on my parents’ resources, but it was a drain nonetheless. When I questioned the wisdom of spending that much money on a marriage, and gifts that no one even wanted, my father calmly explained thatI had no conception of family prestige, did not know how the world worked and was generally a huge disappointment to him.

      All of this, just for snob value.

      And the whole of middle and upper class North India plays at this game, everyone at their own financial level.

      God, how I detest this culture.

      • LOL PT this is hilarious! I lived in Delhi for a little while and it always seemed so strange to me that people were so obsessed with keeping up appearances.. I imagine it must be stifling to live in it but from the outside it has a lot of, er, entertainment value. :)

      • PT, its not just north India. I worked for 2.5 years in the South and things are equally bad there. Yes, they are not that ostentatious as far as the arrangements and look-and-feel goes but you have to see the gold on the brides to believe it. I have known cases where the bride and groom’s families agreed on the dowry before they allowed them to see each other. In the rich circles in AP, there are families which give crores in dowry without the bride and groom giving two hoots about what they are getting into.
        I wanted a court marriage myself and everyone in my house was ready except my mom. So a lot of money went down the drain which I regret till date. I was very stern about the dowry and took nothing, but still got a huge flat screen tv as a “gift”. Its in my bedroom now and I introduce it to everyone as my dowry tv.
        Like you, I hate this game and will always regret that I was a part of it. Makes me feel dirty.

      • @PT, My son abhors all this wasteful expenditure on marriage. We as parents are in full agreement with him. Now the daunting task will be to convince his girlfriend’s family when the time comes :)
        Personally I care two hoots about keeping up appearances in such showy manner. You know how marriages are with people (women) dripping gold, silk and jewelry all over the place. I sometimes (mostly) land amidst them with empty wrists, bare neck and just a tiny ear-ring. If I am in too much of a hurry, I do not even stop to find my watch. Nosey parkers do ask me, “Why haven’t you worn any ornaments?” But some give sly glances. I bet they are thinking we, the husband and I have lost all and my ornaments are pledged. Cheeky that I am, I truly enjoy this speculations on their part ;)

        • Tell me about it.. I get this question all the time – loosely translated from Telugu/Tamil: “Why nothing on ears, hands, neck?” A relative with a low humor/intelligence quotient joked that people would mistake me for a male, since I had no feminine ornaments on. I restrained myself from snapping back with an inappropriate reply with great difficulty. There’s no way anyone with eyes in their head is going to mistake me for a guy, ornaments or not.

    • //”If we cut off the relatives from the marriage practice and make the grooms parents directly talk to the girls parents from the beginning, the stupid system of dowry might find less takers”//
      I find this rather refreshingly ‘innocent’ view of things. Haven’t you heard of parents directly asking for cash and jewelry? “We want that the girl to wear this many sovereigns of gold when she walks to the ‘pandal’.” “The property should be transferred to her name before marriage” “She should have a house in her name”
      It is not the go-between relatives who are the reason for dowry. They are merely being USED by some parents who do not want to deal directly, so do some back stage manipulations and keep their safe distance. After all, after the marriage the toe families are going to be “relatives”. In fact most relatives who ‘arrange” marriages complain that after the event they are sidelined because any irritation over the negotiations is conveniently passed off on to their heads while the two parties pretend they were true angels all along.
      If eradicating dowry were so easy as keeping relatives from ‘matchmaking’ how easy the whole thing would have been.

  9. Dowry is an evil, be it any society….and though we may blame the parents for demanding it, I think men should stand up to this and refuse to comply with parents demands – especially so, when family structures are changing and joint families are becoming a thing of past.

    Unfortunately though, in their hearts many young men are not aginst it (though they may say so) which is why the system has taken root in India despite all laws aginst it. Many young people (boys as well as girls) often go with it to help them “settle down well”.

  10. I have heard few so called ‘modern Indian men’s’ views on the dowry issue. They completely deny it. Or they say it is just a gift. Well, tell me who takes loans to gift people? Recently my Uncle fixed his daughter’s and sons’s wedding in the same month. He ‘asked’ the to-be-bride’s parents what they would provide [gift!] and he was asked the same by the groom’s side. These people are people who have stayed abroad for many years, highly educated, belong to a upper-middle class society and modern in other ways. Dowry is illegal, would they go and trespass someone’s property or break into someone’s car? No right? Then how can they ask/ receive dowry so cooly? Is it because they are sure nobody is going to report them?

    As someone said in the comments, if a marriage starts in dowry [either from the groom or bride's side], it is sure to go downhill from there.

  11. Do men benefit from dowry?

    I suppose the answer to that question depends on what you mean by “benefit”. From a purely materialistic point of view, they certainly benefit.

    But is material wealth really the factor that should govern relationships?

    Dowry is not really free money. Rather like a bribe, accepting a dowry comes with expectations of a certain feudalistic dynamic that the marriage must then adhere to. This is a dynamic that would definitely make someone like me very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to be bound by the traditional conceptions of a husband’s role in Indian society, nor would I want my wife to feel bound by any such conceptions. Accepting a dowry is a sure first step towards that.

    Besides, it is not merely a question of whether or not males benefit from it. As a male, would I even WANT a dowry from the one person I chose (over the 6,840,507,002 others) to share my life with? My wife makes about as much money as I do, but if she did not, I couldn’t imagine demanding payment for supporting her. The very idea of demanding payment for supporting your own spouse is absurd to me, absurd to anyone who does not think of marriage purely in terms of profit and loss.

    It is one thing to protect yourself from freeloaders, completely another to voluntarily mark yourself out as a cash cow and then charge a price for it. That is stupid and venal in equal measure, and hardly the key to a happy married life.

    Then there is the little matter about the ethics of the practice. It’s terribly objectifying (for both parties), and that alone is enough to make me detest it.

    No, I ardently wait for the day when dowry becomes a quaint institution of the past, of interest only to historians and sociologists, and nothing more than a subject of the odd joke to everyone else.

  12. Paying relatives for referring a prospective groom/bride?!! :shock: I am hearing about this for the very first time!

    The proposal of my hubby came through my dad’s close friend, who is also a relative of my hubby’s mother. We did not pay them anything! This was just normal networking and connections….or rather, hubby was there at that uncle’s place when dad called his friend and that’s where my dad first got to know of my hubby..things just moved on from there. We don’t pay them anything….not them NOR ANY relative who refers proposals to us…it’s all out of goodwill that they would do something like that ! :-|

  13. Of course men benefit from dowry, IHM. I wouldn’t expect them to start opposing something which suits them so well just because it is morally/ethically wrong. The only way there can be an end to dowry is by the parents of brides refusing to pay it. You cannot count on grooms giving up what they think they are entitled to–one of the many privileges of being a male in India. The argument that they do not *always* benefit from it may be true but I am not sure if many men would look at it that way.

    I remember talking about it once to an acquaintance. I got him to agree, after a lot of discussion, that asking for dowry was wrong but that was about the farthest he was willing to go. He still insisted that there was nothing wrong in accepting dowry when offered. He likened it to winning a lottery–too bad for those who do not win. I am inclined to believe that this is how the average Indian male feels about it too, though many of them take care to not put it in so many words for the sake of political correctness.

    • They benefit materially, but I think a lot of people (women included) don’t realize the less tangible implications it has on relationship dynamics. The fact that they don’t realize these implications does not mean they are not affected.

      As I’ve said earlier, it’s not really “free” money. Anyone man who thinks it’s like a lottery is deluding himself. It’s much more like a bribe than a lottery – it comes with expectations, it comes with a price.

      But yes, it’s not about men. Since most men FEEL they benefit from it, women (and their families) are the ones who need to put a stop to it. They have the power to; if only they weren’t afraid to use it…

      • PT, I remembered an incident after reading your comment. The husband directed the wife’s attention to the baby daughter (just one year old) happily chewing her Mom’s new handbag. Her immediate retort (in the hearing of all us guests) was, “Aapko kya ji? You did not spend for it did you? It came with my dowry. Each year I go home, they get me and daughter whatever we need for the whole year. You don’t have to spend a single paise on us. So why are you bothered? Let my daughter chew or tear it up or whatever.” He just gave a sheepish grin in reply.

        • Good for that woman.

          We have this whole myth about men being providers and breadwinners and women being freeloaders.

          Dowry actually should make the woman more valuable because she brings wealth to the man’s family. But noooo, this is India.

          I think men will come to their senses the day women refuse to cook, clean, perform childcare and housework, put up with the husband and in-laws’ ridiculous demands and do what makes them happy.

          That will shut up losers like Hen-pecked Husband.

          This society has taken women for granted for centuries and will only stop if women refuse to put up with c&%p.

        • Shail, this raises a question in my mind. In your opinion, should I object if my wife accepts expensive gifts from her family? She once got an expensive cell phone and I told her to return it and I will get you one. She took it anyway and then lost it. Unfortunately, it took me more than a year to be able to buy it for her :(

        • @B, This was not a question of expensive gifts. I heard that in their community, each time the woman goes to visit her parents, she comes back loaded with goodies for herself and kids and the husband. Her whole year’s supply of clothes, handbags, cosmetics etc comes with it. The in-laws (husband included) are eager to send her on that visit every year because custom dictates that she return with gifts. According to what she told me, the husband does not have to spend a single paisa on her. Of course that was said with an obvious sneer.
          As for your question, it depends doesn’t it? Something that is given with a good intention, something that is accepted the same way perhaps might be okay? I don’t know myself. I come from a community where women are never cut off from their maternal home after marriage. We get more than our share of ancestral property. But of course men in our region are always happy and eager for us to wrangle more from our homes. THAT puts me off big time. A couple should live from their own earnings, not look to what they can get/sponge off from their parents (either set). That’s how I feel and have followed.

  14. Dowry is bad – either way, Girl to boy or viceversa. Why should there be monentary transaction for 2 people to live together, they why this stupidity of marriage, let’s just live as roommates ( with benefits?) one works outside , one keeps home, one provides food, the other provides children? NO ..
    My husbands cousin is married to a girl who is the only child and whose parents have a house in bombay, they have 2 kids and the grandparents wrote the house in the name of the grandson ( since apparently he’s the one to performt heir last rites) and the husband ( my cousin-in-law) is pissed off mad. he’s ready to claim all their assets and money ( just to manage it) , he’s by no means poor, so i assume just greedy, My cosin-sis-inlaw feels terrible and curses her husband behind his back and cries to everyone and the kids? an dthey claim to be an otherwise happily married couple? seriously?
    to top this they came ot my place and he complained to my husband about the house his FIL decided to give ot the son .he also thinks my husband could have got a lot of money from my parents if he has managed them well ( my parents who disowned me for marrying an man without parents ?? ha ha ha) She on the other hand thinks i’m extrmely lucky since my in-laws died before we got married and left all their wealth to their only child. Both of them don’t see the loss we both have faced without family, what devastation my H faced loosinghis parents so young , what sadness i faced when my dad put his sister and society’s words over the happiness of his ONLY daughter?? they only think of the MONEY.and then they wonder why we are so happy and still in love? they want to know the secret of how i keep him in my pallu all the time ? and his secret of his attraction for his wife?

    what secret ?

    Marriage is much more than a transaction and men and women and parents need to understand that money exchanging hands causes more than just financial issues, it causes a lot of angst, anger and a general lack of trust in the relationship. ( either side) .

    we marry to be happy , for passion, for companionship, for a loving support, for someone to build a life together, for joy to the exclusion of all others – not money.

  15. For centuries, in India a women has been look upon as a burden, a demon and shame upon the family. I have read many blog posts talking along similar lines and I can’t help thinking that so long as money is the focus of society this wont change. As a girl is frowned upon – dowry seems to be a bribe given by the girls parents to get rid of their daughters. If it wasn’t then this money should have been given to the couple to start a new life ‘together’.

    As a male, in my belief and values a women has a status beyond man. Women are barres of good tidings, they give life and hold societies together.

    • Eh, putting women on a pedestal is just another way of dehumanizing them.

      What is this “bearers of good tidings” and “holding societies together”
      – why is this the responsibility of women alone? Why should men be allowed to let society rot? And this “giving life” – yeah, biologically and technically correct – but instead this is used as an excuse to make women the default parents, i.e. do all the difficult, often boring, UNPAID work of child rearing all by themselves.

      “status beyond men”? I’m going to sit right here and enjoy my regular old equal human rights, thank you very much.

      • Quote “Eh, putting women on a pedestal is just another way of dehumanizing them.”
        What gave you the impression by what I said dehumanized women? I think in all honesty, claiming that giving women high respect or looking up to women is putting them on the pedestal actually is disrespectful and disrespecting women and what role they play and should play in society. Each religion and each belief have their way of understanding society and how society works and should work. Your modern understanding of “pedestal” like figure is insulting those religions and beliefs who revealed knowledge that we possess. The fact that religion is not followed actively or practiced is another issue – but modern thinking ‘might’ be to blame for failure to address this issue.

        Quote “What is this “bearers of good tidings” and “holding societies together”

        Don’t try taking what I have said out of context. Is it not true that women give birth to children? Children who ‘in my view’ are good news irrelevant if they are a boy or a girl. This may come as s shock to you but it true – there is nothing tricky about it.

        At the same time holding society together is what ‘in my view’ majority of women do better than majority of men. Women are known to be ‘home makers’ there is nothing wrong with that or shameful about it. By making a home it brings stability to the family, and as a result has a positive impact on communities and ultimately on societies. That said, I did not and never have implied that women are limited to this – but in fact quite the contrary – women are able to commit to many areas of life. That said, I never said or implied that men can’t do the same.

        Quote “– why is this the responsibility of women alone?”

        Yet again talking my comment out of context – women and men may well have different physical bodies but this does not make men different from women in taking on responsibility on equally. Making the same contribution both ways is in fact the ideal way of life – which is something I believe in and never said that one had a upper hand over the other.

        Quote “Why should men be allowed to let society rot?”

        This is a little sad to read. Are you implying that women are not capable alone to keep ‘society together’ without the input of men – a clear contradiction in your view? Please explain this further. As I said earlier, both men and women are capable in making life, making homes and making communities – even if men never contributed to society (something I find very hard to believe ever will happen) but let’s just say men stopped contributing – would women alone be unable to handle and hence let society rot?

        Quote “”And this “giving life” – yeah, biologically and technically correct – but instead this is used as an excuse to make women the default parents, i.e. do all the difficult, often boring, UNPAID work of child rearing all by themselves. “”

        To imply ‘make women the default parents’…!? The father loves their children just as much as the mother do. Talking about equality – are you implying that men do not have this love or the this right inside them?

        To point out that ‘do all the difficult, often boring’ well come on. Bringing up children is only as hard as you make it. If you find it difficult and boring then simply do not have kids, and to think any mother (or father for that matter) would find ‘bringing up their kids’ boring is sickening to the stomach. In my life and the life of children around me I see it clearly that children are brought up by the best the parents can do – often enjoying each stage of the upbringing and keeping important memories close to heart. I have yet to come across a parent(s) who tells me that bring up their child is boring and hard or difficult.
        The ending statement of this being “UNPAID WORK” then sorry if I don’t want to live in the society which exists in your head. Taking children as granted or believing they are a burden on you is the only circumstance when you would want money to bring up your child.

        Yes it is true that on special circumstances money may be required, but this would be extreme case but often women (at least the ones I know) don’t expect money for them to raise their own children; otherwise they simply won’t do it with cash.

        Quote “ I’m going to sit right here and enjoy my regular old equal human rights, thank you very much.”

        To say quote “enjoy my regular old equal human right” is a disgraceful statement and puts to shame the hard work done by those millions and if not billions of women who fight for change and bring equal right every day all around the world. I support women who fight for their right often against egoistic men who think women deserve to be beneath them. Again, I don’t expect you to work for it but simply enjoy what these lioness women have done for you.

        Oh please, allow me to Quote “thank you” very much.

        Note: Excuse the poor English text, I’m replying from my mobile phone and often its hard to type.

      • Why should the entire burden “of holding societies together and sitting on a pedestal” be borne by the woman alone. We don’t want this special treatment and status which in reality is an expectation of a certain type of behavior from women. All we ask for is equal rights and fairness.

    • I agree with Nandini. Why and how do women have a ‘status beyond men’? Being treated as a human and as equals is all that women need. By saying ‘they hold societies together’ pressure is put on women unfairly. Society is made up of both men and women and it better be held together by both too.
      I agree with you that dowry seems exactly like bribe by the girls’ parents to get rid of their daughters. If they cared enough for them, the parents would set them up in life with that money instead of giving it to strangers to keep her as their glorified maid. But giving the money to the couple won’t work either. It will find its way to the husband';s family because they hold the strings to the puppet they make the sons with huge doses of guilt (We brought you up, sob sob).

      • Hi Shail,
        ‘they hold societies together’ does not and did not imply that without women the society would collapse – Societies function as humans have the ability to figure their way out irrelevant of how bad the situation is – that said, women play a pivotal role in society, and where women’s influence is absent from society – that society is a weak one and more tailored towards egoistic men and their way of thinking.

        But in relation to your dowry response – I couldn’t agree with you more. Ultimately the husband will have to give in to pressure from his family and parents if the dowry was given directly to him. One way of dealing in such problem, albeit it won’t tackle the issue directly, but would merely scratch the surface is to make a law where “if dowry is given, it is given as a contact in both the new couples names, and one cannot make a decision without the permission of the other”.

    • As a male, in my belief and values a women has a status beyond man. Women are barres of good tidings, they give life and hold societies together.

      As a male, I don’t tend to see women very differently from men. They are just individuals, some of them more likable than others.

      Your last sentence is a bit contentious. You have not stated what you mean by “holding society together”. This is a rather meaningless statement to make, because society isn’t something that can really be “held together”; it is a dynamic, everchanging, exceedingly complex entity that is shaped by external and internal cultural forces, as well as various rules of interactions that the people within it set up for themselves. The rules themselves tend to be a function of the economic and political realities of the region.

      Women can give life, but that is a mere biological fact which comes about through accident of birth, and not something that justifies granting them special status. Many women choose not to give life, or cannot give life due to medical reasons. Does that mean they lose their status in your view?

      In my view of things, women are just another unprivileged group, oppressed over the years by those who do have privilege (eg older males in patriarchal society). While they are not identical to men, and have special biological features, the differences are far lesser than the similarities. By contending that individuals of a particular sex are somehow inherently special, you unwittingly speak the language of the patriarch, a language that must be abhorred and shunned.

      One does not use racist arguments to counter racists; similarly, one must refrain from using chauvinistic arguments when combating patriarchy.

    • “As a male, in my belief and values a women has a status beyond man. Women are barres of good tidings, they give life and hold societies together.”

      Why do women need to have a status beyond a man? Why can’t men and women both simply be individuals? Unfortunately this notion of ‘women somehow being better than men’ (which is what I presume you’re implying) is very conveniently used by patriarchal societies (i.e. most societies!) to ‘keep women in their place’ because they are saddled with the responsibility of keeping family, and therefore, society together. What it does, of course, is to obscure the fact of women’s much subservient status and ensures that they continue to occupy that.

      I certainly don’t want the responsibility of holding society together. I want the freedom to do as I will!

      S

    • Deifying women is essentially a way to dehumanize them.
      And as a man I am offended that men are not considered good enough to hold societies together !
      And we give life too bro :)

  16. In an ideal world, stopping the practice of dowry would be quite straightforward – the parents of prospective “arranged” brides should just refuse to consider anyone who expects dowry. You’d think this is feasible given that outside of Kerala, all Indian states have a skewed gender ratio with an increasing shortage of girl-children. But most of us would know that this is not going to happen, because the parents of prospective “arranged” brides will not do this, for multiple reasons.

    The root of dowry lies in the practice of parentally arranged weddings. If Indian parents could just get it into their heads that they are not the ones who should be arranging or paying for their kids’ marriages, then it’ll be an automatic side-effect that arranged weddings would slowly vaporize (except perhaps among conservative muslim groups).

    For arranged marriages to go away, boys and girls should be allowed to date from high school so that they will be socially conditioned from a young age that dating and interacting with the opposite gender is normal and something that’s an absolute part of life. Is India ready for that today? Probably not! But in the next 30 years, things will change. It will be a slow painful change, but it will happen.

    • Not all Indian parents voluntarily want to arrange marriages for their sons. In fact, I know multiple Indian sons, running to mommy-daddy for a bride after failed romantic relationships. In these cases the parents are often semi-reluctant to do so but feel obliged to, because of social pressures and concern for their children’s happiness. In fact, right now, in my extended family, I know a woman who had always hoped her son would date and find a girl for himself being elbowed into arranging a match for him from all quarters(society, son, etc). And she is terrified, because the protocols in these things are so complicated. Arranged marriage takes a toll on all parties concerned, even the groom’s parents sometimes.

    • Congratulations! Your current dowry rate is 1 Crore. Besides the cash amount, you are assured a lavish wedding, a land property (given you negotiate your price well), hefty and expensive jewelry, and even a foreign tour with your wife — all with your in-laws’ hard earned money. Hasn’t someone correctly said, “The best things in life are free”? Now, you can bask in the glory of your achievements. The day has arrived. All these years of hard work, and investment in education has finally paid off. You have made your parents proud. Bravo!

      I am overjoyed to know this, and have already made plans to use the money in the best possible fashion.

      My only apprehension is regarding the delivery of the funds – I’d much appreciate it if they could be delivered to my numbered offshore account in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, preferably through a zero-tax channel (the greedy government won’t get its filthy hands on MY money, ha ha!).

      I’d of course be happy to pick up the cash myself (cash is safer), as this would fit in nicely with my plan to ski through the Alps with my beloved wife and boast loudly about my degree(s) and my wife’s jewelry, while immersing myself in the very excellent Swiss Wine…er…cheese…er…culture, and having lots and lots and lots of kids who can care for me when I’m too old to ski through the Alps.

      Yeh, we are like this only.

      BTW, my apologies for accidentally downrating your comment. I wanted to rate it up, but I’ve just got one of these newfangled iPads for myself, and I’m still getting used to typing on glass…so meh.

  17. Of course Indian men benefit from dowry. It’s free money to go with the free domestic servant and free baby making machine!

    Your question is almost like asking: Did white people benefit from slavery? OF COURSE THEY DID.

    I mean, I get what you’re referring to. Dowry is part of the system that foists the expectation on men that they treat their wives a certain feudal, patriarchal way rather than as an equal. This is sad for men, because they will never know true companionship from women. Just like slavery is part of the system that foists the expectation on white people that they must treat black people as their inferiors rather than as equals, and I guess this is sad for white people because they are denied the opportunity of true friendship with black people.

    But why is this worth talking about? The people who choose to take dowries (or own slaves) have the power to refuse it, and if they don’t refuse it, they are choosing money over considering their wives (or black people) human beings. I am not going to feel sorry for them!

    • That’s overstating it. The domestic servant and baby-making machine expects the man to have the sole, or atleast the main, responsibility for providing herself with every material thing she needs in life, so it’s hardly “free”.

      Where I live, marriages are much more equal, and I think that benefits both men and women more. Yes it means I must vacuum the floors, wash the bathroom, bring the children to the doctor when they’re sick and cook dinner as often as my wife does – but it also means we’ve got two incomes, this makes it possible for both of us to live comfortably without excessive hours of work.

      And it means something else: I think we understand oneanother better. Since we have more shared experiences. We both know what it means to do housework-chores, and we both know what it means to work outside the home.

      But you’re absolutely right that everyone should patently refuse to have any dowry be part of their marriage, and that goes for women as well as for men.

  18. The whole concept of dowry itself is wrong! Either if its taking from the bride’s family or giving it to them. It makes the bride to be traded as a commodity. Generally men who accept dowries are the ones who will be willing to give one. These types who expect dowry/ or who eye on the bride’s property/ or who expect dutifulness from their wives – are the ones who cannot tolerate or are generally fussy when they have a girl baby! They start saving for their daughter’s marriage instead of focusing on her self-reliance – and thus the cycle continues.

  19. Having the bride’s parents completely bear the expenses of the wedding is also dowry in my opinion. Keep the parents out of the finances of weddings, then:

    (i) Parents will stop worrying about saving for their daughter’s wedding from her birth (if she is allowed to survive),
    (ii) Weddings will be lot simpler than it is now. I don’t know when I last heard of a wedding that cost less than a lakh.. I personally don’t think it is worth it!
    (iii) Men and women will start paying for their own wedding expenses. They will automatically avoid spending a fortune for the wedding, but save it something useful later.
    (iv) Gifts in the wedding will remain gifts, and not “demanded gifts”.
    (v) Parents will not worry about “log kya kahenge”. They will not be pressurized to show that they can do a better wedding than some X, Y, Z in the town.

    • *BANG BANG BANG*
      Thats the nail being hit on the head!!! Well said Chandru!
      Keep the parents out of the expenses and everything will get sorted out!!

    • Indeed. Here in Norway the couple to get married pays for the wedding, and they are simple affairs relative to peoples wealth. My wedding cost aproximately 2 weeks salary. This was somewhat below the average, I think the average person here spends aproximately one months salary for their wedding. But even that is still a moderate sum of money.

  20. Depends. On what kind of marriage the guy is looking for. If he is after potential life long companionship, compatibility, mutual respect and close knit family, then he is probably going to lose in the wrong run.

    If the guy is only looking to increase his parents’ networth, dowry wins.

    But it still does not make dowry right. Because it is not about the man at all. It is about a young woman whose life and services are being traded by her parents and inlaws without any benefits to her. From a purely business perspective, the girl has no say in dowry negotiations nor can she negotiate for herself to be treated / looked after in a particular way by her husband or ILs. The closest comparison for this kind of deals is slavery.

    • Very true.
      Parents offer dowry hoping that their daughter will be respected and treated well in her marital home.

      Since dowry is illegal, this transaction and agreement has no legal validity.

      Nothing stops a man’s family on reneging on their obligations towards their DIL.

      A woman may be harrassed and ill-treated despite a substantial dowry payout.

      Perhaps the solution lies in legalising dowry and enabling a bride’s parents to negotiate a contract that the man’s parents cannot renege on.

      This could be similar to JVs or profit-sharing deals between companies that are legally enforceable.

      I think legalising dowry would be akin to legalising prostitution.

      Making it illegal just drives it underground and makes women more vulnerable.

      Of course, all this requires an efficient judicial and police system, which India does NOT possess.

      Expecting many thumbs down this time. :)

      • I think the very act of creating a legal piece of paper when such money exchanges hands, with terms and conditions signed off by the bride, groom and all other involved people by itself will prevent people from taking dowry.

        Everyone knows what a sham this is. Now if they are legally bound to the consequences they will definitely shape up. I do not support dowry, but if two people think that money needs to be a part of their equation, then let them go at it with laws protecting them just like they would for any other contract.

        I am also for legalizing prostitution. If we can sell our thoughts and ideas, if film actors and actresses can sell fantasies by using their bodies, then why cant prostitues do what they want legally?

  21. Some of my friends were a little intrigued by the custom of Mehr at my wedding. In rough terms, “Mehr” is the pre-decided amount that would be handed over to the bride in case of separation from the husband, for example, divorce.
    The friend’s consternation rose from the thought that we were planning for a divorce at the time of marriage!
    I didn’t realize it before, but I now know that pre-nuptial agreement is not a new concept in Islam. Its better to cover your ground before taking that big leap…never mind if it an arranged marriage or a love one.
    On an aside, mehr is NOT dowry. It is NOT alimony. It is given exclusively to the bride and the amount is decided on by both families. If kids are involved in a divorce, a man has to give separate alimony. Usually, the Mehr is kept rather high, so that the man thinks twice before taking that step towards divorce.
    The religion does not compel a woman to ‘stay’ married. Society does. A muslim woman has as much right to demand a divorce as a man. But very few take that step, worrying more about their parent’s reputation than their own lives.

    • When we studied the various personal laws in sociology, the Muslim personal law relating to marriage and divorce seemed the most fair at least on paper (though it seems to be twisted to the man’s advantage somehow in practice) and the Christian personal law the least.

      • We live in reality, and not on paper. In reality, equal rights stand much poorer in muslim-dominated countries than they do in christian-dominated ones. Though the best-scoring countries for equal rights are all countries where religion as a whole has low influence. This makes sense as most religions are patriarchal.

      • //In Islam, mahr (Arabic: مهر‎; also transliterated mehr, meher, or mahrieh) is an amount of money (but not necessarily) paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage (nikah) which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of “dower”, the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr, but is not the same. Mahr is a mandatory gift (or promise thereof) given by the groom to the bride either at time of marriage or later. Unlike a bride price, however, it is given directly to the bride and not to her father. Although the gift is often money, it can be anything agreed upon by bride and groom such as a house or viable business that is put in her name and can be run and owned entirely by her if she chooses. The terms “dowry” and “bride price” are sometimes used to translate mahr, but these are misleading. There is no concept of dowry in Islam.//
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahr
        More here,
        http://www.ruqaiyyah.karoo.net/articles/mahr.htm

  22. On the front page of today’s ToI (Bangalore) is the story of a father who tried to strangle his infant daughter.

    The three-month old is not expected to live. She has a damaged brain due to the strangling and shaking. He fed her poisoned biscuits to be doubly sure .

    We may not connect the dots, but dowry is directly responsible for such attitudes.

    Perhaps fathers like Umar would spare their daughter’s lives if a daughter’s marriage was not such an expensive burden for them.

    This was an extreme case, but many parents of daughters would identify with his motivations.

    Why? Precisely because one day, they’ll have to pay through their nose for her wedding and dowry and it may STILL not be enough.

    RIP baby Hina.

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  28. In Europe dowry was a common practice in the past, but the girl’s family was expected to provide a dowry, not the groom. Dowry was a contribution which the woman bring to the marriage for setting up the home and establishing family unit and consisted in her trousseau, household linen,carpets, pillows, hand-made textiles, itmes and sometimes lands, property, money. (it depend of her social status).

  29. Dear Sister and Brothers

    1. Why women parents giving dowry? There should be some un realistic expectation. No one wants to give any thing at free of cost.

    Basic reason behind this, responsible women , women parents expectations.

    1. Women, women parents looking for boy who has higher status than women, women parents in terms salary, boy’s property.

    2. Women even if she is earning always looking for high salaried boy, who has huge property. I know in bangalore 98% women expects house in bangalore.

    But unfortunate thing, women, women parents does not want contribute any thing.

    3. why women parents, not giving property share to the their daughter?
    Why daughter not asking her share?

    4. Are women parents giving, dowry which is == boy’s salary + boy’s property.

    It is shame, society not understanding this, women does not want struggle, but wants become literally rich.

    Stop blaming men, first correct your self.

    Men please you too look equally salaried women, expect women to get her property do not take dowry.

    These women getting all the advantages from the men, but blames men.

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