The Social Evil Of Dowry & Pakistan
An evil our society has been following since centuries and is even following with the same or may be increased intensity is, “Dowry”. It is basically the money, land, or all the material and monetary possessions or wealth that are transferred to the Groom and Groom’s family by the Bride’s family at the marriage of their daughter.
Now this is a concept that has its roots down to the European culture where it was common until 19th century and is still important in most of the Islamic world. Pakistan adopted the dowry system from Indian culture. In recent years, dowry system is on a rise and is followed and adopted with all the zeal and zest by all of the socio-economic classes of the country.
Dowry is the social wrong that has affected our society in many deleterious ways. Many girls are drawn to commit suicide to save their parents from this venomous burden, many families consider daughters as social burden even from the time they are born because of this, many parents are drawn to other social sins like robbery, stealing, bribery, etc., in order to manage for their daughter’s dowry, many girls have been murdered or divorced or treated pitilessly because of the fact that they did not bring any or enough dowry and the list of the harms and destructions this immoral act has brought to us and our society never ends. These destructions seem justified then in a way because a daughter’s parents are left with no other choice.
There are many forms of dowry that have evolved over the passage of time. One simple and classic form is the direct transfer and exchange of possessions by the Bride’s to the Groom’s family. Another way that has evolved and is common now-a-days is the exchange of possessions and materials in the name of gifts and presents that are forced on the Bride’s family on the wedding. In many instances, a Bride’s worth is judged in terms of the material possessions she has brought with herself. There are two sins we commit in this aspect. One is the act of asking and the other is the act of remaining silent even if we are against it. The harm done cannot be replaced so remaining silent will yield no good and in fact, more harm than saying it out loud.
There has been no law or bill that has condemned this monstrous practice practically though the state has a law with the name of Pakistan’s Dowry and Marriage Gifts (Restriction) Act, 1976(1). It completely fails to restrict dowry and bring relief to women of Pakistan. With more than 2,000 deaths solely related to dowry issue per year, Pakistan has the highest reported number of dowry deaths per 100,000 women in the world. It is, indeed, a matter of shame that Pakistan tops the rate of women killed in the name of dowry.
A silver lining we are all excited to see and are hoping for it to be implemented vigilantly is the bill that has been passed by the KPK Assembly to ban down the pernicious act of dowry. We are hopeful that it will bring serious positive outcomes in the province and on a broader spectrum in the whole country in the end.
The very bill was presented by Jamat-e-Islami (JI)’s MPA Rashida Riffat and has the following specified propositions:
a) A complete ban on the give and take of dowry in wedding ceremonies.
b) Three months of jail time and Rs. 200,000 fine for anyone involved in the give and take of dowry.
c) Legal action against anyone involved in pressuring the bride’s family into giving dowry.
d) Gifts given to the couple at the wedding should not cost more than Rs. 10,000.
e) The Walima ceremony should cost should no more than Rs75,000.
f) Marriage functions to not continue after 10pm.
Only beverages to be served at Nikah and Baraat ceremonies.
This bill has put a great responsibility over KPK Government to get it implemented in a watchful way. It will yield no positive outcomes unless the bill is being observed strictly. We hope and wish that with this landmark begins a new chapter of positivity and lawfulness that will be followed in KPK especially and that the remaining provinces of the country to have a strong impact of this Bill and one day we build a Nation who is free of such societal and social evils.