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.
“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
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]
“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]
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?
Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance? – Indian Homemaker