Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dowry

Rant alert.
Dowry shouldn't even be a word any more. But we know it is very much a real issue far from being eliminated. Over the past year or so, I've heard of at least 5 cases of dowry: as in a sizeable sum of money being given by the bride's family to the groom's family during the wedding. All of these cases (both "love" marriages and "arranged") are from middle-class or affluent families, where both parties involved are well-educated, ostensibly "forward" and what not. What the fuck exactly happens to all of that suddenly? I don't get it. I am yet to reach a stage of smugness where the sheer ridiculousness of such things leaves me unfazed. It gets me most riled up to see that women whose parents have invested in a strong, well-rounded education for them amongst other things, women who are smart, very vociferous in their daily life and workplace, let themselves be party to the pratice of dowry. Really, WTF is all I have to say. Because I have heard all kinds of ludicrous justifications in the face of all of this. Women adopting a passive stance "My parents can afford it, so why bother and kick up a storm"; or "This is an old tradition, no point fighting it if that's what the elders want" etc. etc. Or it is that horrible desperation to "Get married" that pervades the indian strata - so a demand for dowry cannot be an impediment, after all "its a nice family, girl and guy like each other, horoscopes match, girl needs to "get settled", what's a few lakhs or crores or so being demanded, eh? especially when one can afford it.." What? What happens to self-respect? And really, how many times in your life do you, as an adult, just blindly follow what your parents say?? And here you are willing to accept this without questioning it, let alone calling the police and putting those people in jail because that is what you need to be doing. How much of respect do you have for a guy who is willing to put a price on you or the marriage? Yes, dowry is discussed, even bargained in these instances. It disgusts me that the girl allows it to happen. And don't even get me started on how low I think of the boy in question. How, then, can a girl allow herself to marry this person and live a life with such a spineless person? And the point is not about keeping elders happy or that your parents can afford it, the point is perpetuating this crime, a battle that scores of poor, lesser privileged women are constantly fighting in a very sordid and gory fashion. And here you have people spending lakhs of rupees on ostentatious weddings and bargaining dowry without batting an eyelid. SHAME ON ALL OF THEM!

/rant.

15 comments:

ggop said...

Amen sister!
I've been asked by progressive guys as to why women put up with this shit in the first place. You are onto something when you mention the horrible desperation to get married.

sd said...

This is very frustrating.

In the last few years, I have got an impression that a lot of crimes associated with stupid age-old ideas (and therefore especially against women), is committed by the so called "educated middle-class people".

Consider the sex ratio in Punjab region. Do you think that only uneducated people commit the crime of female foeticide? I doubt it. In fact most poor uneducated people probably do not even have the resources. The sex ratio I believe is around 700. Shocking.

Recently a very close friend of mine could not get married to her long time boyfriend because her boyfriend was not from "a high caste." And both her parents are scientists/researchers at a reputed university in India!

A batchmate of mine (in an engineering school in Mumbai) who also comes from a "good/educated family" wanted to get married to a well-educated woman but wanted her to not work after marriage! When he told this to me with a straight face - I was aghast! I am sure people like him would not flinch an eye while asking for dowry.

All this sucks, and the worst part is if educated young Indians commit such crimes, we can only hang our heads down in shame.

P said...

Thank you! Finally someone else said the same things I keep ranting about. I really too fail to understand the girls who take part in these situations happily. Where is the self-respect?
Many times its the girls who actually ask their parents to give jewelery, all household things, car etc.!!! Even when I see my well-educated, well-earning friends letting their father pay for their grand weddings I feel so amazed. Haven't our parents done enough to make us capable enough to pay for our own needs and luxuries??

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

ggop,
sigh. yes. why do we put up with this shit? and we can't fight it, i don't know how much hope there is.

sd,
yes, female infanticide/foeticide is known to be practised by the urban middle class too. its sad. just sad. my rant was inspired by a wedding in my own family, so you don't know how sad and angry and disappointed i feel right now.

to be honest, that resistance to inter-caste marriage is really the smaller of all these evils. i don't support that attitude, but sometimes find myself able to understand where the resistance is coming from- not so much from a discriminatory standpoint but more from a fear of "clash of cultures and traditions" standpoint. its not black and white, and sure as hell needs to be revisited. but i think its pardonable.

and yes, we can only hang our heads down in shame. :(

p,
yeah. most of the girls that agree to this are agreeing out of sheer convenience. how can their blood not boil?

s.k said...

So what are you doing about it? Besides ranting, that is.

Sakshi said...

You go girl!
Dowry earlier used to be like "Meher"- wealth given to the daughter since she had no right to inheritance. Now, it has turned into a big mess. Stupid people.
I totally agree that a woman should say no to such cases of marriages. I am done with asking the men to grow a spine! Most of my guy friends basically said they would not go against tradition.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

s.k,
unfortunately, nothing. but i'm open to ideas. got any?

sakshi,
Most of my guy friends basically said they would not go against tradition.

and now my B.P rises all over again. i should stop reading my own blog for a while now. :/

ferret said...

I do know one girl, who called off her wedding only a few weeks before D-day, with all cards gone out and everything else in place, coz the guy's family asked for dowry and guy refused to speak against it.

@s.k - well what is required is a change in thought, not a strict enforcement of law that tgfi or anybody else needs to bring about. The law is already in place, and it cannot serve any purpose if both people involved are okay with taking/giving dowry. And as she says, we see this practice being perpetuated by seemingly educated and forward people. Unless these people start thinking of it as something wrong, it wont stop. And ranting about it, however useless it seems to you, might just be the most effective thing tgfi or any of us could do about it.

Ms Taggart said...

Ditto to all the feelings you mentioned about Dowry, and much more.. the blood just boils .. thats all!!!

I guess all those women who marry by giving dowry dont just have an inch of self-respect, and are so willing to pay a price to the guy to take care of them, and those men are all wimps! Bleddy wimps, I say!!!

Ms Taggart said...

In response to the female infanticide, I have something to say.
On a recent trip to the gynecologist, I asked her if there was a scientific way to ensure that I would have only a girl child, and not a boy child. To which she says, that fortunately there is none, because she apparently gets 100s of requests from people asking her to ensure that they have a male child only!
She says, if a technology like that existed, then there wouldnt be any girl kids at all.. thts how the society is even on this day!

V said...

As far as arranged marriages go, the guy should stand his ground and decline accepting any form of money, given that some parents are still stuck in the 50s. But if this is rampant even when the guy and girl have known each other, they just don't deserve to be married. I'd dump the girl if she said it was OK for me to accept money from her parents because her parents can afford it. Who the hell wants her Dad's money? Harsh but only then people will learn.

On parallel lines, there have been numerous instances of fake dowry cases of harassment. The girl just has to report that she's being tortured even she's not and the guy and his parents are put on trial.

There are innocent victims on both sides of the battle.

Sakshi said...

@Ms Taggart - There are ways to ensure you have a girl child only - do invitro fertilization and select only for female fetus.
Just FYI.
Just curious, if you are keen on selecting a female child, why are you angry with others selecting a male only?

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

ferret,
hats off to that girl! thanks for sharing.
and thanks for responding to s.k. :)

ms t,
yes, utter lack of self-respect. its just self-destructive and i fail to see what makes them give in. the men, indeed, are wimps.

yes, this even-in-this-day-and-age prevailing bias against a female child is just..sad.


v,
wrt fake dowry cases- that is indeed unfortunate, and undermines the very cause and movement. i haven't personally heard of any but i can see how they can happen.

Sakshi,
I think Ms. T is referring to the fact that the preference for a male child is still so rampant that it is the majority sentiment and is capable of skewing the sex ratio so dramatically if such selection was legal. That is more of an issue than an occasional couple wishing for a female child.

Sakshi said...

@TGFI - Thankoo. No offense to Ms T, but I get upset when people go to the other extreme rather than dealing with the issue. That is an option only I am allowed to :P

Ms Taggart said...

~Sakshi: Well, What Lajjo said about why I mentioned here is true... I was ranting about how people still want a male child in this day and age.
And also, I was curious if there would be a way to ensure the girl child. If there would be one, then I would probably consider having kids, is the rationale.. :)
I do know its the other extreme, but then I am atleast not contributing to the dwindling male:female ratio or not talking about totally not having the male child.. :)