A Wife Without Dowry

Dowry has been an integral part of the medieval culture. Dowry is assumed to be gifts, love, and prestige from the bride’s family prior to marriage. Practice of giving and receiving dowry was influenced by social customs as well as the pressure of the caste system. However, dowry became a source of both happiness and sorrow for a bride during the medieval era. The practice of dowry is deeply embedded in Pakistani culture and distresses each segment of a spouse’s life. According to nomenclature, dowry is considered as lifetime security for bride but it doesn’t remain limited to the items contributing to beginning a new household for a couple, an ample of loud marriages, designer, branded items for bride and groom family, and full course meals all raised with the dowry practice. Besides Nikah is a legal contract between husband and wife. Dowry and dower are two main concepts in Islam. Dower is allowable and dowry is prohibited. Dower is the amount or anything the groom presents to his wife as an emblem of love and respect.

On the other hand, the first thing we hear at the birth of a baby girl is in such distress way, “Beti Hoi h” Allah Naseeb achy karay” as our society feels cursed to have a baby girl and “achy Naseeb”(good fortune) is the only thing a girl needs in life. Women are victimized by domestic violence and often killed due to failing to fulfill expectations. According to the recent survey conducted by Pakistan news international, Pakistan ranked highest in reporting dowry death cases per 100,000 (2.45%) women over the world. Every year almost 2000 dowry death cases are reported. The highest ratio of death cases was reported in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Dowry’s evil system diminishes the status of women in society. Lack of an anti-dowry system, weak implementation of anti-dowry law, social status, and gender discrimination caused domestic violence and abuse, female infanticide and feticide, and increased harassment at home. Activist says that the dowry practice will be eliminated if women gave inheritance right.

 Recently, Pakistani government passed various laws to stop the cruel practice. The federal government makes an amendment to the 1976 Act, Bridal and Dowry Restriction act which determines the total expenditure on weddings should not exceed two thousand to five thousand for urban areas and twenty thousand for rural areas, mandatory to duly signed the list of dowries by Nikah Khwan and witnesses of Nikah. But the bill was not passed. At least attach a copy of Jahez’s List with Nikah Nama.. Dr Semi-Bukhari, a legislator representing the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf) said that parents can register complaints if they are pressurized for dowry will be faced with the punishment from 6 months imprisonment extendable to two years along a fine of ten thousand rupees. However, the deeply rooted tradition is still widespread regardless of imprisonment and fines.

However, this act sheds light on the matters like marriage-related concerns are legislated under the administration of the provincial government. Family courts just have to resolve these issues not implement laws. The United Nations organization UNO celebrated the swing of Ali Xeeshan’s fashion movement against dowry. According to Daily Pakistan, his collection “NUMAISH” point out the bitter reality of old age dowry practice, supported by UN Women. The slogan #StopDowryMongering, #NumaishNaLagao, #JahezKhoriBandKaro, and #JahezAkLanatH’ hypnotize every individual but still, people remained silent and nothing happened with this evil practice. Several critics have asked why his bridal gowns are priced in hundred thousands; even one dress costs the same as the dowry.

As per the UN website, this movement gained rushed and different Pakistani celebrities participated in this movement and uploaded pictures of their hands with hashtags written with henna against this stereotypical practice. According to research held by Gallup in February, 69% of the population considered it impossible to marry a girl without Dowry.

Without a dowry, girls are considered a curse for family and society.

Government is still silent on the issue. Anti-Dowry supporters need to enlighten the public masses. The first step toward the anti-dowry system is Education. The self-Dependency of women can tear down dowry-related crimes. Secondly, the big step toward the demolition of dowry practice is gender equality. Educating people about the ill effects of dowry and spread awareness regarding equal human rights above their genders. Government plays vital role a country’s development by implementing proper law and order mechanism.

Before destroying humans and their culture, this is high time to shows unacceptability towards this evil system deeply rooted in our culture before it had destroyed human life. The government needs to take mandatory steps to stop dowry practice however only laws cannot demolish this ill practice and self-implementation get to go toward the fall of dowry’s cruel culture.

Rabia Alvi
Rabia Alvi
MS Public Administration, Government College University, Faislabad (GCU)