Yesterday I wrote to you about the bad situation that some women are in when they marry into a family that was actually only keen on getting a big dowry. Some of you rightly asked whether there was no way for these girls to go to court for this. There are laws against dowry of course but unfortunately even those are now being misused.
The law against dowry was passed in 1961 already. Isn’t it horrible that in this long time, now 50 years, it was not possible to erase this idea from this society? There have been several changes to this law and in the beginning they made it stricter. For the first seven years of marriage a woman has the right to go to the police and file charges against the family she married into.
I admire every woman who enforced her right and went to the police after her husband and his family harassed her in such a way. There have been cases in which girls went to the police to turn their grooms in for demanding a high dowry and for physically harassing them. The grooms and the complete family in those cases have to face investigations and can go to jail. It is good to see for those cases how law could do something good.
Another fact is however that this law has also been misused many times. Not only grooms’ families can be greedy, brides’ families, too, do criminal efforts in order to get more money. There have been cases in which a girl married a boy and without the family doing anything wrong towards her, she went to the police, claiming that she was asked for money, for a dowry by the boy and his family. In those cases the police went to investigate and the whole family of the boy had to fight for getting justice and not having to pay money to the girl’s family or even going to jail. If the girl states she had already given thousands of Rupees for her dowry, the boy first has to prove that she did not. The bride and her family often blackmail the groom and his family with the threat of going to the police if they don’t pay them money. The groom, afraid of having to go to jail, often pays and this for a whole life long.
Due to such abuse of the law, they had to loosen the law again. Isn’t it crazy that there is a law that should protect you and you go and use it the other way around?
My family has had their own experience of the misuse of this law. My brother got married in the traditional way with an arranged marriage. In that time the family chose a girl from a poor family to give her a good life. They did not have any money, not to mention any dowry. We never had the wish to take a dowry and my family paid for everything for both sides, the wedding, the girl’s dress and simply everything. The marriage did not last. The girl and her family were not nice to our family. They ran away with lots of jewelry, some of which had been presents from my family and some of which was stolen from our home. My brother filed a case for divorce and they filed a case for dowry. Needless to say how much we suffered from this whole episode.
I can only repeat it: we need to finish this complete system from this society as it makes it sick, brings much pain and hurt to people, increases the greed in each person involved and makes an occasion that should be filled with love, a simple business matter.