‘Do you take him/her as your lawful husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish until death do you part?’ is a common wedding vow said on wedding day. Many people dream hearing this statement in their special occasion day or many people have heard it. Particularly this speech is traditional in many American weddings. However, there are many cultures which include different or similar traditions in weddings.
A good example of the most presented tradition in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East can be the dowry or dowry system. ‘A dowry is a collection of property, goods, or money provided by a prospective bride’s family to a prospective groom and/or his family in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage,’ as cited in Salem Press Encyclopedia. Currently, western countries aren’t practicing dowry.
However many countries stopped the practice of dowry, it is mostly present in India and it is establishing violence among family members and women committing suicide. In order to reduce the violence and deaths, India outlawed the dowry practice, as the matter of fact anti-dowry legislation is not effective and it is not decreasing the number of violence against and deaths among women. From my perspective, social media can be a good resource to reduce the number of dowry practice, violence against women, violence among family members and suicide commitment among women.
To apprehend the dowry, let’s bring our attention to the dowry system in India and the Dowry Prohibition Act. As it mentioned above, dowry is a property, valuable gift for an exchange of bride’s hand in marriage. The dowry is voluntary action but despite that many grooms and groom’s families are demanding dowry. Dowry system lost its presence in western and European cultures. Conversely, a high number of dowry present in South Asia and the Middle East (Ruckno). Many bride’s families can’t afford the dowry and it is worth to mention that India holds large numbers of unemployment, especially women unemployment, according to Surangama. Even so many families can’t afford the dowry, the cause of its continuation is that parents want their daughters to marry a rich man in the higher ranked family and establish financial security for their daughter (Surangama 112). Parents want their daughters to have financial stability in a new family and they want to support a newborn family. According to the video provided by RR0214/B, the economic growth is establishing high demands on dowry and the amount of dowry payment is increasing. India holds the high numbers of violence against women associated with the dowry. Therefore the country established the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961. Tihar jail in the New Delhi is a jail for females prisoner and ⅓ of them are women accused of dowry charges. Most of this women are mothers in law who killed their daughters in law for dowry-related problems (RR0214/B). As quoted by Surangama ‘In India unnatural causes accounted for 18 to 30% of deaths in adult females especially in newly married females. ‘ and is commonly know that India is one of the most populated countries on earth. National Crime Record Bureau reported that 91,202 dowry deaths were recorded from 2001 to 2012. Worth to mention that it includes suicides, poison, murders, and other unnatural deaths (Surangama). Indian government established an anti-dowry policy which was called the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961. According to the Dowry Prohibition Act, for demanding dowry, the person can be sent to jail for at least 6 months, any person gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry can be sent to prison at least 5 years and will be punished with fine of at least 15,000 rupees or 209 USD () The anti-dowry policy isn’t giving the desired result and social custom is still continuing. According to the data provided by National Crime Records Bureau, a total number of 2,276 females committed suicide due to the dowry-related problem. In 2004, data showed that 2,585 numbers of suicides occurred due to dowry problems. The data provided proves that anti-dowry policy isn’t so effective. In order to effectively decrease the number of deaths, it requires more action rather than the anti-dowry law.
It is the fact that India is considered to be one of the biggest populated countries on earth. The World Bank group stated that in 2017 the population of India was 1,339,180,127 people. The number is astonishing and the population of India is still increasing. According to the data provided by Internet World Stats, 462 million were using the internet as recorded in December of 2017. The number of active social media users are 230 million. It is possible to notice that social media became a big part of our life. Personally, I spend 5-7 hours on average on social media. In fact, many adolescents spend more hours on social media. Currently, billions of people are registered in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and etc It is fact that Facebook is considered the biggest social media in the world. As a result of our social media usage, commercial agencies are more highly interested in advertising on social media rather than on television. Particularly, the government of India should advertise anti-dowry commercials through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google. Dowry Prohibition Act isn’t showing desired results, violence against women and commitment of suicides are continuing. World economic growth is continuing and demand on dowry will be increasing. A government of India should start advertising and preventing dowry. From my point of view, India is capable of spending on social advertisements and it financially capable of continuing the practice of advertising anti-dowry commercials on social media for 5 years. According to the data provided by The World Bank, India’s GDP growth for 2017 was 6.6%. It directly proves that India has enough sources for financing anti-dowry commercials. Moreover, it is possible to decrease the number of dowry deaths, and dowry practices because of the high number of internet users.
In another hand, the importance of dowry practices exists in India. Dowry helps to support a newborn family financially, and increases the status of the groom’s family, also, it helps to establish a marriage among lower and higher castes. Previously it was mentioned that many women are unemployed in India and it can be hard to keep the household. One of the main effects of dowry is that it can improve the income and richness of the material household. Moreover, dowry payment will increase the status of the groom’s family. Therefore many groom’s families demand a higher amount of dowry payment because they increase their status (Abbas 5). It is commonly known that in India society is divided into sects. A human being born in one caste, continues to be part of it until his/her death. Additionally, the bride and groom should be from the same castes to marry. Marrying other caste member is forbidden. However, if the bride’s family decides to marry their daughter to a man from different or higher rank castes, bride’s family should pay a huge amount of dowry to the groom’s family (Abbas 3). This allows man and women to marry each even if they are from different castes. Although dowry system has its importance and its beneficial sides, there are many women suffering from it every day. It has a huge impact on domestic violence and suicide commitment, it should be reduced and stopped rather than continued.
On the whole, we can see that the dowry system became an evil practice and it is leading to many deaths and establishing domestic violence. We were able to see that the Dowry Prohibition Act is not effective and violence and death is still continuing. With help of internet and social media, Government of India can reduce the number of deaths, suicide, dowry practice and eventually stop it.