Dowry – UPSC GS1

  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows a rising graph in the number of dowry cases registered:
    • ~9,000 for 2012
    • 10,050 for 2014
  • Supreme Court has pointed out in that section 498A has “dubious pride of place amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives”.
  • TV ads focusing on wedding gifts/dowries are common now.
Challenges in Tackling Dowry:
  • System of patriarchy is deeply entrenched in our homes. The bride is looked upon as a commodity and handed over as a package. She is bundled up with gold, a car, and other luxury items.
  • Dowry Prohibition Act failed to stop the practice of dowry.
  • Sufficient degree of education is also not enough to control this menace.  For instance, Kerala has near-total literacy and yet weddings continue to be lavish, with brides’ parents often taking loans and nearly bankrupting themselves.
  • Lack of financial independence of Women due to poor participation in work force.
Multipronged Approach to tackle dowry:
  • Accepting dowry should be made a social stigma:
    • Superstars should be encouraged to endorse this along with their soap and soft drink endorsements.
    • Women should flatly refuse to give dowry as part of marriage and men should refuse to take it in any form. People should go for simple, inexpensive, dowry-less marriages rather than Bollywood-style extravaganzas.
  • Financial independence of Women:
    • Women should be supported to take up jobs and have independent incomes.
    • We should expand childcare and safe public transport, reduce discrimination in hiring, and create affirming workplace environments.
    • At home, men should share domestic work and care responsibilities.
  • Promote Gender Equality:
    • States should look at gender-disaggregated data across the life cycle – birth, early childhood, education, nutrition, livelihood, access to healthcare, etc. This will help in addressing gender inequality.
    • Further boys and girls should be systematically sensitized on the core value of gender equality by their teachers and mentors.
    • As a larger initiative, laws, and regulations should be screened to remove gender bias, replacing words like “manpower” with gender-neutral equivalents.
  • Stopping domestic violence:
    • There should be zero tolerance towards domestic violence. Families should store evidence and report at once, instead of sending battered women back fearing “what society will say”.
  • Provide Support System to Victims: Support systems must be expanded to help victims with shelter, counselling, legal follow up, and livelihood support when required.
Country needs a multipronged approach to tackle the inhuman practice of dowry. Mere enactment of a legislative framework or enhancement of literacy levels is not enough to control this problem.

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