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“What will you give for the child” this too casual and norm-based question is the very starting the system of dowry in every marriage relationship. It is an age-old demon system that prevailed in India and still prevails in India. The recent dowry death cases and dowry related news inform us that the practice of dowry has been strongly practiced till now even after 61 years of the abolishment of the dowry. The practice of Dowry has been abolished officially and legally through the enactment called the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 enacted by the central government. The act is a prohibiting act and a penal law which imposes punishment for the violation of the same. The act has been enacted with a view to eradicate the system of all practices of the dowry in India.
Dowry – Different Practices
If we hear about the word dowry we may think about the cash or gold or property which is given to the husband by the wife or her family at the time of the marriage. But this is not the real phase of dowry. Dowry has had different forms and incarnations in different geographical and communal areas for different time. The most prevalent among them can be classified into two:
- The Bride Money
- The Dowry
The Bride Money
The bride Money is the practice of giving money by the groom to the father of the woman whom the man is going to marry. It may seem to be interesting to the core feminine thinkers as the equality of giving money by women to men has ended. But the implication of bride money is worse than that of the dowry. It implies the daughter if the father has been bought for the prescribed money by the husband. This treats the bride like commodities. Not only that there was a practice of abandoning the wife in her own house, if the expectation of the husband about her in his bed is not met. This is an age-old system but it is still observed in some of the rural areas of India.
It is the normal meaning of the dowry as we say and use. It is the giving of money and other valuables to the husband or his family by the wife or her family subsequent or in consequence of the marriage. This practice has developed like bargaining the amount in the matrimonial market. If the demanded dowry has not been received or given, the wife will be treated like a second person in the husband’s house. Thus, every loving parent will try to give their best as a dowry to her daughter to safeguard her life. Thus, this practice still continues illegally even after its abolishment.
The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 – Overview & Significance
The dowry prohibition act has been enacted in a view to abolish all forms of dowry. So, the act in its present form does not imply the dowry given by the wife only but also given by the both. The definition given to the Dowry in the Dowry Prohibition Act specifies the above fact. Section 2 of the above act defines the dowry as:
“dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either
directly or indirectly.
- By one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage, or
- By the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person,
At or before [or any time after the marriage] in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include] dower or mahr in the case or persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applied.
Thus, the term dowry has not been given any gender specific indication. Thus, it comprehensively includes each and everything that is given by husband or wife or their families to the other person. Thus, the act abolishes all forms of the dowry that is the bride Money as well as the dowry also. The Punishment for taking dowry was also said in the act in section 3 as follows:
If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years (5 years), and with fine which shall not be less than fifteen thousand rupees (RS 15,000/-) or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more:
This act also establishes a ban on advertising the dowry (property or valuable substance) relating to the party to the marriage to contemplate the marriage. The above said matter has been discussed in the act in section 4 as follows:
If any person-
- a) Offers through any advertisement in any newspaper, periodical, journal or through any other media, any share in his property or of any money or both as a share in any business or other interest as consideration for the marriage of his son or daughter or any other relatives.
- b) Prints or publishes or circulates any advertisement referred to in clause (a), he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to five years, or with fine which may extend to fifteen thousand rupees.
The significance of the Dowry Prohibition act is not only a competitive exam crack material but also an eye opener. The comprehensive legal framework often fails to punish the culprit as it is impossible to identify and prove without the cooperation of the family members. In the name of love these kinds of illegal practices are supported. Let this article be an inspiration to raise your voice against all forms of dowry and begin the change in the society. Make sure dowry is not practiced in your family. Study the key points along with the adaptation of values of the same. Keep studying and keep winning.