Sunday, May 14, 2006

How many babies did you kill today?

Say NO to dowry. STOP female foeticide.

Dowries are technically illegal since 1961 and sex selection is prohibited since 1994.

Paying a dowry is a heavy financial burden for a family which sometimes results in female foeticide or discrimination against girl child. One figure: the child sex ratio in Punjab has fallen from 793 in 2001 to 776 in 2003, and in Haryana from 820 to 807 during this period. Female foeticide is not the only factor influencing the ratio but it is probably one of them.

Once the girl is born?

Some families must hold back on economic resources to save for gifts to the woman’s future husband and his family. Some girls are denied the right to education, since expenses on their education is not considered to be an investment of higher returns. According to Janice Raymond (1994, p24) girls are breastfed for a shorter period of time, which denies their right to adequate health and nutrition.

Once the girl gets married?

Early marriages are favoured in some Indian states like Rajahsthan. The biological family no longer has to support the girl. The husband’s family may view her as cheap labour in the household and fields. Trafficking in India is rising, and sometimes this, too, is driven by the value of dowry. Some of the girls who have been trafficked are from Nepal. They marry Indian men in exchange for dowry. The young wife might then be sold in to brothels as child-sex workers across India. Numerous incidents of bride burning, harassment and physical torture of the young brides and various kinds of pressure tactics being adopted by the husbands /in-laws pressurising for more dowry have been reported too.

Society is fighting hard against foeticide, discrimination against the girl child, atrocities on brides and suicides, divorces, etc. Despite the existence of rigorous laws to prevent dowry-deaths under a 1986 amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), convictions are rare, and judges are often uninterested and susceptible to bribery.

In 2005, murders by dowry-seekers are still reported daily. It is important to reiterate that these are official records, which are immensely under reported. What's more, most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide.



Dexter said...

dowry sadly is still not a small problem! even the socalled educated ppl from IAS, IIMs, IITs demand dowry and infact have a dowry rate card as well! :(

erasmus-in-india said...

A dowry rate card???

Dexter said...

ha ha! yes! :D its like we have invested this much in making our son somebody and if you wanna marry him you have to pay up!

btw, i have changed my blog url to

you might wanna reconsider updating your blogroll. he he

Sachin said...

Dowry is still a major problem... Even in love marriages! Either the dowry system should totally subsist or not at all...

Let me explain you why. If a father has a son and a daughter, how will you explain him that in one of the cases there is a dowry involved and not in the other. If he receives a dowry for his son and doesn't pay any for his daughter, it would be fine but what if he has to pay one for his daughter and doesn't receive anything for his son?

I dont accept the dowry system like more and more people in the new generation... But i was raised by my parents and I must at least partly take into account my parent's expectations.

India is a difficult country to understand... but i m sure you figured it out ;o)

erasmus-in-india said...

As a girl, my judgement is probably a bit biased...

I havent thought of the second part of the problem... True, parents have to make their son somebody to make him get a good dowry. And since there are more guys than girls in India, the fight for a good dowry might be stressful for the groom family as well...

Sachin, funny i had a similar discussion not too long ago... (in fact, not that funny because it was concerning me personally). You are talking abt the sister/brother issue, I could add the trans-generational one. A dowry is supposed to be used by the freshly formed couple but the money often goes to the groom's family. If your mother gave money to your grandparents (on your father side), I guess it is logical for your parents to expect the same kind of cash flow from your bride.

Ajay said...

Dowry may be problem for most caste's, but not all. Atleast not my caste. We are not allowed to ask anything from brides family. We have to accept whatever is given by the brides family as gift.