Dhaka, Bangladesh
Elite dowry must go

Editorial

Elite dowry must go

People are now vociferous critics of the woman repression. But it seems only lip service as torture on women in various forms is going on clandestinely in the society. The unbridled dowry system in our country is as good as violence against women, but people are least bothered about it. Dowry, a vicious practice in Bangladesh, is one of the major causes of violence against women. It is an evil cultural practice in which the bride's family has to pay a big sum of money or give away valuables, durable goods, cash, movable or immovable property to the bridegroom's parents as a condition of marriage. The bride's family has also to give away other valuables as demanded by the groom's family as wedding gift. A dowry thus used is actually a conditional gift. With the change of time the nature of dowry has also altered. At present dowry is given in the form of a gift e.g. car or flat from the bride's family. This has become a compulsory custom with the affluent class of people or men belonging to upper echelon of the society. The poor also goaded by greed now submit to the practice of the rich although they cannot afford to pay any dowry demanded by the bridegroom. Bride's family, more often than not, is required to sell their property such as land, ornaments etc. Instances are galore which illustrate the incapability of parents in the process only because of the dowry they have to pay during their daughters' marriage. The kind of dowry now in vogue in the society can be termed 'elite dowry'. In order to marry their daughters off to bridegrooms of solvent families the poor parents of the brides in many cases have to spend huge money which they collect from the sale of land which is their only source of livelihood. Dowry has thus made them more pauper. The message this illegal dowry conveys to society is painful and unfortunate. It encourages dowry and as a result, the existing trend of dowry is perpetrated and perpetuated. In discussing about violence against women caused by dowry, we have enough incidents to refer to. Women are harassed, battered and tortured brutally for dowry. According to statistics of the Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) in 2016, 108 women were tortured physically and 126 women tortured to death. Despite the existence of laws those are not enforced properly and stringently because dowry is deeply ingrained in the society. Repression on women will not stop unless dowry system is completely eliminated from the society. Law alone is not enough for this. Social awareness must be raised among the young generation about this malaise so that it ends before long.

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