Disclaimer: All the views expressed in this post are mine alone and I mean no disrespect whatsoever to anybody.
A while ago a friend of mine literally shoved a newspaper in front of my face and requested me to read an article. After which she proceeded to tell me to never get married to an Indian guy. Now that would be very difficult seeing as my parents would so not be cool with it if I brought home a non Indian guy and said I was going to marry him, even if it were an Indian guy my parents would most likely freak but that’s a whole other story.
The article was about a young Indian woman and her one year old daughter who’s bedroom was set ablaze while they were asleep by a disgruntled husband, ergo my friends concern over my well being if I were to marry an Indian guy. The reason this sorry excuse for a human being set his family on fire was because his wife’s family had failed to hand over the promised dowry. It makes me sick to realise that money meant more to this man than his wife and infant daughter. Despite having a well paid job his greed for more money resulted in a woman’s unnecessary death and an innocent child in the hospital suffering from severe burns. As an Indian myself I was at a loss to explain this to my very horrified friend. How can I possibly justify this incident? At that moment even though it pains me to say it I was ashamed to be Indian.
Dowry is a serious problem that is faced by many women in India. Though it is an integral part of the Indian culture, the reasons behind the concept of giving dowry have becoming skewed over time. In the past when men were the sole breadwinners of the family a woman’s only form of security was the dowry she received from her parents upon her marriage. Nowadays it is like a chain reaction, I gave so much for my daughter therefore I expect this much from my daughter in law. If the demands are not met by the bride’s family most often than not the girl is persecuted by her new family. I am not saying that dowry should be completely obliterated as upholding cultural practices is important but rather the practice of demanding money, gold and property should. It should be up to the bride’s family to give as they see fit keeping in mind their socio-economic status and other considerations.
I see this as the solution to another very serious problem faced by women in India. Female infanticide and foeticide. A study showed that three million girls in India are “missing” as there was a decline in the population of girls aged 0-6 years from the year 2001 to 2011. Girls are robbed of their lives even before they are given a chance to live. Parents justify this by saying it is very expensive to raise a female child in today’s society and that they can’t possibly afford to pay for dowry when it’s time to get her married. Therefore if people quit demanding dowry then raising a female child will no longer be too much of an expense to bear and several innocent lives can be saved.
Hopefully in time these issues will no longer be considered issues and I would like to point out that not all Indians demand dowry or commit female infanticide. As an Indian I am immensely proud of my country, its values and traditions and I mean no disrespect of any kind to India or Indian culture. This is just something I feel strongly about and I am just expressing my thoughts and feelings on the matter therefore I extend my sincerest apologies if I have in the process of writing this post offended anyone’s sentiments.