Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reforms in Family Law Part 4

Prevention of Dowry System 

Dowry is a social evil that ruins two families. Where Dowry is demanded, endless conflict starts between the parties and ends with death of the bride or divorce or unhappy married life. Almost all the persons play double role, a father of a bride, searching for bridegroom for his daughter, has different thoughts from the father of bridegroom and feels that dowry is the biggest disease. Contrary to this, the father of bridegroom thinks in different sense, and has a tendency to have maximum Dowry. This is a highly social problem. To solve this, we made it an offense in 1961 and thereafter drastic change in 1983 took place by amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Indian Evidence Act to deal with dowry death and cruelty by husband and his relatives by Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983.

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 says that any person who gives, takes, or abets the giving or taking of dowry shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to six months or with fine up to Rs. 5,000 or with both. Dowry that started off as a practice to give away presents to the departing daughter, usually some resources to begin her new married life, slowly assumed extraordinary proportions and turned into a social evil. Brides were expected to bring the "gifts" regardless of their personal willingness. The bride's family could no longer have an individual say; lists were prepared and sent to the girl's house before the final agreement between the two families. The condition being that the boy would marry the girl only if the demands were met. Such a custom is being practiced not only in India but also in other countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. The reason behind this custom is the poor economical condition of the people along with a lack of education; unawareness of legal rights among women and a general bias against the women.

Crimes like rape, kidnapping, eve teasing and indecent exposure can be grouped as crimes against women. Rape is the worst crime against women after murder and the maximum punishment under the IPC is life imprisonment. An abortion or miscarriage due to natural causes is not an offense. Therefore, the law does not deal with it. However, violent and forceful abortion is a crime. Sections 312 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code deal with abortion as crime. Section 313 deals with abortion without the consent of the woman. The punishment could even be life imprisonment.

The Hindu Succession Act gives male and female heirs almost equal right to inheritance. Section 14 says that any property possessed by a female Hindu shall be held by her as full owner and not as a limited owner.


  1. Dowry has been almost a custom in india for which girls parents have to be blamed as much as the groom's parents besides the groom himself.
    Perhaps, dowry custom is not prevalent in large cities but sure is common in smaller towns/cities.Besides changing the mind set,all that is needed is for girls to get educated and be economically independent.The dowry takers have always justified their action saying that a lot of money has been spent on boy's education.
    We can have any number of laws, what is important to ensure fair implementation.
    It is a very informative post, Neha.

  2. Very informative. What started as a courtesy went on to become a social evil. It needs girls to be bold and guys broadmindedness to say NO.

    Even with law, these things do happen and are so rampant. Its so sick to see it happening among well educated people as well.

  3. hey..i knw many wont agree..but i really feel dowry cases r decreasing at least in cities yar...c, girls r highly educated now...i never took dowry nor did my 5 brothers..girls r becoming stronger thank god..and anywy, any husband who looks for dowry - i just have 3 words for them: Shame on u.
    maybe i will add: better go and beg on the streets.

  4. I don't see any problems if the bride's family gives away gifts to her daughter during her vidaai; this act won't be labeled as a dowry then. But if the groom's family asks for it; then it's a disgrace as well as a crime!
    As far as rape & abortion are concerned, I don't know about the law, but I personally rate these crimes same as murder! And I propose maximum punishment for all of these!
    (I am sorry if I am being extreme!)

  5. With increased awareness and education for girls, the dowry scene is changing slowly. We now hear less no. of cases of brides being burnt or maimed for dowry. As for abortion, it is really a shame. And that sub clause that doesn't hold natural abortion as a crime is for lawyers and diagnostics to manipulate. Rape, as Niket puts it is equal to murder. Even for the most strong women, the scars remain in psyche. It should invite rigourous imprisonment of 65years.

  6. The problem with dowry system is, you cannot tackle the problem with any law. This is a clunk, a moral fear over the hopeless condition of indian society, where marriage is considered sacred.

    Once we realize it is just an adjustment, the desperation to marry will die down and so will dowry.

  7. regarding this law is useless.

  8. First, I wish to seek your permission to mail this info to my friends.

    Dowry system is still rampant in India. Now-a-days people dont directly ask for dowry...they just say: aapko jo dena hain de dijiye.

    And every girl's father saves every paisa to give heavy dowry on their daughter's wedding.

  9. Dowry is a trail left by the colonials. Only time, and dead of ignorance can uproot this social evil.

  10. Hi! neha,
    In most cases i believe mother in law is the one who is more into dowries, afterall if the bridegroom has bones, nothing shud matter, in kerala we have a district kannur where dowry system doesnt prevail, but then you know only beautiful & well educated girls get married the rest stay back all their irony