Friday, 20 April 2012

Dowry in India

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Dowry Deaths in India discusses the many problems associated with dowries in the India culture. The article focuses on the particular case of Manju Singh, who was burned to death by her husband and in-laws as a result of a dispute over the dowry she and her family paid to her husband and his family.

Dowry deaths in India number between six and fifteen thousand per year. In order to combat this widespread problem, The Dowry prohibition act of 161 was amended by the Indian Parliament in the early 80s in order to place blame on the accused in any situation where a bride dies unnaturally in the first seven years of marriage. However this amendment has done little to reduce the number of dowry deaths. It is believed that dowry deaths are no only about material goods involved in arranging marriages, but also other underlying problems that are rampant in American society, such as infidelity and incompatibility. It is believed that dowry deaths often take place because the alternative, divorce, is considered appalling in the Indian society, leaving spouses no choice in how they end their marriage.

The origin of India’s dowry problem can either be traced to the British Raj, which created a bidding market for young women’s families in order to secure a man that could provide a safe and prosperous future for their daughters. Modern dowry is based on two ancient Hindu customs of kanyadan and stridhan, which provided jewels for the bride and a premortem inheritance from the bride’s parents. Today, dowry is seen as a value of the groom’s desirability.

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It is thought that modernization within the Indian culture has escalated the problem of dowry deaths. With the introduction of modern appliances and technology, the demand for greater dowries involving said items has escalated, thus forcing families to often pay upwards of the equivalent of $100,000 in order to marry their daughters into a higher caste in society. When parents fail to meet these high standards, the groom and his family grow angry, all too often resulting in the killing of the bride. The strict caste system that is in place in India also contributes to the problem, with parents often forcing their daughters to marry someone that they do not know or love and refusing to take them back when things in the marriage turn bad, thus contributing to the dowry deaths as a result of common problems like incompatibility.

Do you think that arranged marriages are humane? What would you think if your parents controlled your entire life and decided who you were to love forever?

Should these practices be stopped or are they simply a foundation in some cultures? What do you think about arranged marriages in the video “Masai Women?”

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