Gender Inequality: A Cause of Dowry Death In India

    Dowry Death

    Does pseudo-modernization and lack of gender equality major cause of dowry death in India?

    Dowry death can be defined as the death of a married women after her marriage who
    due to continuous harassment and torture by their husband or relatives (in-laws) is
    murdered or driven to sucide over a dispute about their dowry, making the women’s
    homes the most dangerous place for them to be. It basically is an asset which is
    provided by the father to the daughter which mostly became the cause of her unstable
    married life and growing pressure of unsatisfiable demand for dowry which destroys a
    womens life and leads to this heinous crime named Dowry Death.
    Gender Inequality can always be noticed as a major drawback of Dowry Death’s in
    India, the cultural institution of dowry as practiced in India engenders violence towards
    women. This later takes the form of inter familial harasment on women for continuous
    demands of payments of goods and money and further makes the womens life
    misserable in her own house leading to Dowry Death. The Gender Inequality in our
    society could have been noticed from ages ago, It kept on rising with time leading to the
    rising of such offences like Dowry Death in our country. Lack of gender neutrality in our
    society also currupted our core encouraging such offences. Dowry was earlier
    considered a social security to women during a post-marriage crisis such as alienation
    by a husband or another marital conflict. In simplified terms it was a gift for the woman
    from her parents for her security or her needs, which with time was turned in the favour
    of the other party.
    Section 304(B) of the Indian Penal Code states that if a woman dies within seven years
    of marriage by any burns or bodily injury or it was revealed that before her marriage she
    was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative of the
    husband in connection to demand dowry then the death of the woman will be
    considered as a dowry death. Punishment for dowry death is a minimum sentence of
    imprisonment for seven years or a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life.
    Essential requirements of Dowry Death are – Death should be caused by burns or bodily
    injury or by any other circumstances, Death must occur within the seven years of
    marriage, It must be revealed that soon before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty
    or harassment by her husband or any other relative, The cruelty or harassment on her
    should be in connection with the demand for dowry . The Presence of the above 1
    requirements is mandatory for such an offence to occur which could be legally
    chalanged by law. Some steps were taken to reduce the cases of dowry demand in our
    country like – Section. 8B Dowry prohibition officers:

    The state government may appoint as many dowry prohibition officers as it thinks fit and specify the areas in respect of which they shall exercise their jurisdiction and powers under this Act.

    Every Dowry prohibition officer shall exercise and perform the following powers
    and functions, namely,-
    (a) to see that the provisions of this Act are complied with,
    (b) to prevent, as far as possible, the taking or abetting the taking of, of the
    demanding of dowry ;

    3. (c) to collect such evidence as may be necessary for the prosecution of persons committing offences under the Act ; and (d) to perform such additional functions as may be assigned to him by the state government, or as may be specified in the rules made under this Act.

    4. The state government may, by notification in the official gazette, confer such powers of a police officer as may be specified in the notification, the Dowry Prohibition Officer who shall exercise such powers subject to such limitations and conditions as may be specified by rules made under this Act.

    5. The state government may, for the purpose of advising and assisting the Dowry
    prohibition Officers in the efficient performance of their functions under this Act,
    appoint an advisory board consisting of not more than five social welfare workers
    from the area in respect of which such Dowry Prohibition Officer exercises
    jurisdiction under sub-section(1)


    It can indeed be clearly observed that pseudo-modernization has always played a major
    role in promoting Dowry deaths in our country india. As we can understand that change
    is the nature of our society, An important assumption in this model of change is that
    traditions are impediments to the development of a modern society and are things of the
    past . Since the origion of pseudo-modernisation could be observed from the beginning 2
    of our society in the earlier times when dowry was taken as a compulsory practice while
    getting married. It almost could be observed in such times that the exchange of dowry
    was indeed considered as a basic requirement for a marriage to occur and with the time
    being passed it still is, and can be clearly seen practising not by direct means but
    indirect means. India is widely regarded as one of the most unsafe countries in the
    world due to the pseudo aspects of the society which lead to the downfall of women in
    our society criticizing them in regard to such unlawful practices. The society claims itself
    being modernized with time but are they actually modernizing when it comes to.
    promoting such unlawfull practices such as demanding dowry in India? the answer that
    clearly comes in our minds may be yes to some extent but clearly no if we look at a
    broader picture. In the name of tradition we are promoting dowry practice which is
    responsible for the lives of women being unsafe in their own homes after the marriage.
    From the ages, we have seen the demand for dowry but to stop dowry the demand for it
    should be understood properly by society so that it can prevent its practice . If we try to
    compare the earlier times and the present modernized society we would be able to
    outline the pseudo-modernized changes between both the times, like in earlier times the
    dowry practice was promoted as a traiditional practice and people openly demanded
    dowry according to their wish from the other party and the other party have to fulfil their
    demand in order for the marriage to occur as planned. If dowry is not provided or the
    party still even after receiving their desired dowry aren’t satisfied they used to harass
    the bride after marriage demanding more and more dowry. Dowry could be demanded
    in the form of money, property,household goods etc. This continuous demand for dowry
    leading to excessive harassment to the bride by her husband or in-laws leads to dowry
    death in which either due to the woman being bodily harassed she dies or she commits
    sucide. It could be observed that the society claims that with society being modernized
    these practices such as dowry exchange or dowry deaths have been reduced, but is
    this claim by the society genuine in India? This unlawful dowry demanding practice
    never was abolished completely from the society even after the society claimed to be
    modernised, instead it led a step towards pseudo-modernization promoting this practice
    in our society still. We could still observe this dowry system to practice just like earlier
    times but the only difference is that in pseudo-moderized society dowry is exchanged in
    terms of the gifts that the bride’s family gives to the groom’s family in terms of money,
    property, household good’s etc. If they are still not completely satisfied with the dowry
    received in terms of gifts or dowry promised they start harassing and body shaming the
    bride just like they used to in the earlier times leading to encouragement of dowry death.
    In 2016, reported dowry death cases in India amounted to more than 7.1 thousand. This
    was a gradual decrease from the 2014, in which this number was approximately 8.5
    thousand. The dowry system in India incorporates payments in the form of capital,
    durable goods, real estate among others, made to the bridegroom from the family of the
    bride as a condition for marriage .

    Gender Equality is the major essential requirement for Sustaianble development to
    occur in the society but gender discrimination and gender disempowerment is the major
    cause promotion of this dowry system from ages in our country India. If we talk about
    the level of discrimination faced by women in the earlier times in our country, we could
    then understand the level of criticism women have been facing from ages due to gender
    inequality. In the earlier era women were treated as goddesses and their was no form of
    discrimination existing in our society, but later with the passing of time restrictions were
    imposed on women and male members were considered as supreme by the society
    where as female members condition declined in the society. These practices lead to the
    formation of this social evil dowry in our country which later with time became a
    necessary practice in our country india. Initially, dowry was a social tradition, but with
    time, it became a social evil, and a voluntary gift turned into a forceful demand. When
    the dowry demands were not met, consequently, the deaths of brides began to come in
    light (Sachdeva 1998) . Most of the deaths in the cases of Dowry used to occur 5
    between the age of 15-34 years of age group, most of the deaths could be directly
    corelated to dowry demand. It was noticed that dowry problems were due to poor
    prohibition of law or lower status of women in the society which leads to dowry death
    rising cases in our country. Lack of proper education to the people regarding the laws of
    dowry prohibition and the punishments if this heinous crime is practised in our coutry
    should be explained on a wide scale to all the deprived areas. In earlier times people
    encouraged gender stereotype society and gender discrimination was faced by the
    women from the birth, sons were given prime importance where as girls were even
    poorly fed, girls were even deprived of education which also was a major reason for the
    downfall of female in the society in the earlier times in our country. Dowry was thought
    of as a price of marrying bride to the bridegroom, which later was demanded again or
    may be promissed by the bride’s family could lead to harassment of the bride and can
    cause dowry death. Female daughter’s being killed by their parents in the mother’s
    womb was also seen to avoid giving dowry at the time of her marriage. There has been
    a persistent rise in the incidence of dowry marriages in India. The amount of dowry
    demanded has grown to a level that threatens destitution of daughter-only households
    and the constant harassment of brides .

    Dowry can be deeply seen as a part of society as if it is attached to the rootes of the
    society and as a result treats women as a commodity because of the lack of gender
    equality in this pseudo-modernized country of ours. Laws and regulations made to
    prevent dowry and dowry death in our country India hugely remained ineffective on a
    large scale and instead these laws were misused and victimized husbands, and for
    wrongfull gains laws were introduced to reduce such unlawful practises and ecourage
    equality and mutual peace between the citizens by awaring them about this offence it’s
    causes and it’s punishments. A more effective approach would be development of a
    gender-neutral body of property and inheritance law, until that occurs the question of
    whether dowry prohibition is actually in the interests of women is unsolved . The most 7
    effective way would be instead of scandalising these dowry practices, laws should be
    impartial and strict towards such cases if the essential requirements as mentioned in
    section 304(b) has been fulfilled thus the offence is dowry death. Mindset of this
    pseudo-modernized society needs to change for the betterment of the citizens of it’s
    country and for a better future. Thus the practice of dowry in our society should be
    strongly discouraged and equality should be provided to all the individuals whether man
    or woman equally thus reducing the dowry death cases in our country India.


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