Dowry should not be Supported by Charity and Donations – 1 Apr 11

Indian culture

I have been writing a lot about dowry in the last days. Lately someone sent us an email and asked the following question: ‘I have read much about different great projects which all support girls in India. Why don’t you do more for girls? There are many charities that help poor families collect the dowry for their girls. And if you did more advertising, saying ‘Save the Girl-Child’, I am sure many more people would help!’

While I am sure that the person who wrote this email meant well for girls in India, I would never follow this suggestion. I know that there are many charity organizations that collect for girls so that they will be able to have a dowry. Every of those donors who contribute surely wants to help but I think they are not aware of the consequences of what they are supporting! I don’t approve of such projects simply because they indirectly encourage a system which is fully wrong!

I know that there are organizations, some of which even support education, too, which each year save money for their female students for their dowry, so that each of the girls will have a good sum for her dowry when she is adult and ready to marry. Their argument is that there are families who cannot afford to pay their daughter a dowry and thus have difficulties marrying them to successful boys. They say these girls don’t get respect in their future family or even any husband at all. But don’t you support this tradition? It is wrong that these girls ‘have to have’ a dowry. By giving them one, you make the rest of the society feel that this is how it should be and the next generation will ask you to help them with the dowry, too.

Instead you should support those girls to get a good school education so that they can earn money themselves, be independent and marry whenever they want, not when their parents want them to be cared for by a husband. With a good education, a girl has far better chances of a good future than with a good dowry. And nobody can take her education away from her. Of course it will take a complete change of mind in the society but education is the first step. So please support projects and organizations that help girls to stand on their own two feet instead of organizations that collect for their dowry which would keep that tradition alive for many more years.

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  1. Ursula Nujici

    Absolutely true, I am 100% the same opinion!One should always keep asking oneself what actually really is support with they good intentions and efforts…what is the finely result of one action.

  2. Katrina

    It is true, Swami Ji, that one needs to think more about what one donates to. It is not enough just to give money and think you did something great. In my opinion there are several different kind of people:- those who don’t donate (because they cannot, are stingy or think it doesn’t help anything anyway)
    – those who donate just blindly to any organization they find and thus feel good about them, their conscience relieved that they did something for humanity
    – and those who donate consciously after selecting a good charity with which they know what they do and what it brings.
    Only the last ones would be aware of the effect that you described. None of the others is actually a donor aware of his help.
    We need to get informed and take responsibility for our actions, also for our donations!

  3. Swami Balendu

    Dear Katrina,Thank you for this distinction of different points. Yes, I also think you need to be aware of what you are doing, even if you are planning to do good. Interesting point that some people try to relieve their conscience. It is true, they don’t do good out of love but out of competition or social pressure – my neighbour donates, so I have to do that, too…
    Anyway, thank you for your love and support!

  4. Emily

    Good point, Swami. I think these people want to help girls and women in India, but aren’t even aware of the cultural traditions and implications of preserving them. I’m glad that there is awareness and support for the education of young Indian girls because this is so valuable in helping them make the choices they want for their lives instead of just following old traditions.

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