International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 7, July-2012 1
“SOCIO LEGAL PERSPECTIVE OF DOWRY”: A STUDY (WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SHIVAMOGGA DISTRICT)
Mrs. Reshma, Professor A Ramegowda
cultural practice of dowry. It also makes an analysis of the laws related to dowry and their effectiveness. The findings of t he study show that section 498- A and section 304-B have provided teeth to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, but Article 51-A of the constitution remains ineffective because the socio- cultural norms related to the practice of dowry have remained unchanged and therefore, the practice of giving and receiving dowry continues as such. Even otherwise law abiding citizens are giving and receiving dowry. Adequate social awareness and education is necessary, alo ng with legal punishment, to do away with this evil practice.
Nature created woman different from men with a definite purpose. Balance is stillness and stagnation; imbalance is motion and progress. Nature designed life and action by means of the imbalance brought about in the traits of men and women. In the process, women find themselves at the receiving end. They ended up as the weaker half of society by their very nature and are naturally handicapped in a world of m en, by men, for men.
etc. have put Indian women in a subservient and exploitable position in many domains of life. Low rates of participation in education, lack of economic independence, value biases operating against them, etc., have resulted in the women being dependent on men folk and other institutions of authority like the family, neighborhood and the society. They are usually ignorant of their rights and even if they are not, they do not have easy access to justice.
The issues related to women are being raised and discussed in various flora, in the recent times. Of these,
‘violence against women’ is gaining more and more
support and recognition, the world over. But despite the enactment of laws, formulation of reformative legal processes, provision of legal aid to the needy, extensive use of the provision of Public Interest Litigation, conduct of Family Courts, Women/Family counseling centers, etc., women in India has a long way to go in concretizing their Constitutional Goals into reality.
1 B.R. Sharma, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Govt. Medical College & Hospital, #1156-B, Sector-32B, Chandigarh, 160030, India
The problem has to be visualized in a wider context and cannot be viewed in isolation from the status of women in the society. Legislation alone cannot by itself solve deep- rooted social problems; one has to approach them in other ways too. Therefore, what is required is not only a strong legal support network but also opportunities for economic independence, essential education and awareness, alternative accommodation and a change in attitude and mindset of society, judiciary, legislature, executive, men and the most important, woman herself. Restructuring society in terms of power and role relationship while emphasizing the egalitarian values is the need of the day. During the national Struggle for Independence, Gandhi gave a call for emancipation of women. He wrote- ‚I am uncompromising in the matter of women’s rights. The difference in sex and physical form denotes no difference in status. Woman is the complement of man, and not inferior‛. Thus, the first task in post-independent India was to provide a constitution promises to secure to all its citizens-
‚Justice-social, economic and political‛2.
3With all her rich cultural antiquity, diversity and heritage, India has also been a country that has suppressed her women. It is ironic to say the least, because Indians have always worshipped their country as a ‘Janani’ or
‘Mother’. On the one hand they worship this mother, and
3 Vandana Sing “Dowry or the living devil in the society”.
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International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 7, July-2012 2
on the other they disregard their sisters, daughters, mothers, and wives.
DOWRY REFERS AS BELOW
Dowry or Dahej is the payment in cash or/and
kind by the bride's family to the bridegroom’s family along with the giving away of the bride (called Kanyadaan) in Indian marriage. Kanyadanam is an important part of Hindu marital rites. Kanya means daughter, and Dana means gift.
A dowry (also known as trousseau or ocher or, in
Latin, dos) is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage. It contrasts with Bride Price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both dowry and bride price. Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it.4
5Dowry (Dahej/Hunda) as we all know is paid in
cash or kind by the bride’s family to the groom’s family along with the giving away of the bride (Kanya-dana). The ritual of Kanya-dana is an essential aspect in Hindu marital rites. Kanya=daughter, Dana=gift. The word ‘Hunda’ appears to be direvied from ‘Handa’ which means a pot. This could be due to the now extinct practice of offering dowry in a pot.
6Dowry system in Indian Marriages can be called the
commercial aspect of the marriage. The practice of giving dowry was very common among all people of all nations. A girl gets all the domestic utensils that are necessary to set up a family. Dowry system in India was prevalent since the Vedic period. In Epic period gifts from parents, brothers and relatives and relatives were recognized as women’s property- stridhan. According to Kautilya ‚Means of subsistence or jewellery constitutes what is called the use of property of the woman. It is no guilt for a wife to make use of this property in maintaining her son her daughter-in-law or herself if her absent husband has made no provision for her maintenance‛.
7Since British rule till date efforts are being put to root out one draconian evil from Indian society that is dowry system but in spite of huge efforts cornered, evil persists in all aspects everywhere in country. Problem is no more confined to one or two states or north Indian states but gained roots in the soil of Southern as well as Eastern states
4 www.wikipedia.com women and dowry search.
5 Hindu Social Customs by Sudheer Birodkar.
6 “Dowry system in India”indianetzone.com
7 Pallavi Sharma “Dowry system a curse on Indian Society”.
too. Problematic part is that it made its way to all sections, classes, castes, societies and communities. It permitted even
to tribal societies known for primitive egalitarianism and gender equality and to Muslim community too. Strong legislation, laws and women’s movements, every attempt to resist it has been thwarted by the wide social sanction accorded to this illegal practice.
Roots of dowry date back to the time when man started living a civilized life. Originally it intended just to give a support and security to new couple who start their married life. It also signified an alternative to inheritance for woman. In periods of time it distorted its face and but its worst face comes to the fore in present society where parents pass their whole life under debt to pay dowry in the marriages of their daughters which also results in murders and suicides of the daughters. Rising dowry death toll in recent years reflects the grimness of the problem.
Reasons behind huge dowry demands are counted by experts mainly the lack of economic rights of woman, denial of property rights and basic civil rights such as right of marriage of own choice, land rights and education. Social mental set up also works behind it such as in Indian society girls are considered a liability while boys as assets. Culturally sons are preferred. This accords a secondary social status to women. Nalini Singh says that a woman has
‘Zero political statuses in family. They are considered to be
a compensation for that ‘worth deficiency’. Several surveys reveal that dowry cases have risen drastically within last 10 to 15 years.
It is considered that dowry system was facilitated by economic liberalization. Sudden rise in dowry cases is also linked to the rising consumerist culture and according to the report of (AIDWA), All India dowry workers association, and the natural tendency of human to have easy access to the consumer goods which was prompted by the varied choices of consumer goods available in the market. Heightened incidents of dowry can be attributed to the changing economic structure of society consequent social polarization.
Dowry is not the only problem of Indian society, attached to it is the whole bunch of corresponding evils. International women’s conference in Australia accepted that female feticide is directly related to dowry. Middle and lower middle income groups who are not able to fulfill the demand of dowry think it wise to nip in the bud. Domestic violence is another consequence of this evil. This colossal problem persists even after centuries, is mainly because stringent laws alone cannot bring change at level of mentality of people for that mass movement needs to be initiated. Mass awareness is to be created. Hundreds of dowry deaths are closed as just kitchen accidents or
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International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 7, July-2012 3
suicides. Around 40 percent women married happen to be below eighteen years of age and illiterate thus not in
position to assert themselves. Their voice remains unheard in society.
Lack of political participation due to social-economic constraints is another reason why woman has not been able to assert herself and protect against this evil. This is also considered the failure of male- oriented polity by some experts. Due to all these disadvantageous position of woman, we fail to solve this problem even after all attention and focus on it. Women’s education and enhanced participation in political process, position in decision- making bodies will improve the situation. They need to be provided with shield of protection which should not be blunt like present laws but Dowry originated in upper caste families as the wedding gift to the bride from her family. The dowry was later given to help with marriage expenses and became a form of insurance in the case that her in-laws mistreated her. Although the dowry was legally prohibited in 1961, it continues to be highly institutionalized. The groom often razor sharp that could really help them and prevent them from taking such extreme steps as taken by Pooja Chauhan of Rajkot.8
Demands a dowry consisting of a large sum of money,
farm animals, furniture and electronics. The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe in ‚bride burning‛, is the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide. It is evident that there exist deep rooted prejudices against women in India. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to subordinate women in Indian society.
The immune approach of the stronger world to its
weaker counterparts has to be countered with strong arm methods of the state power. In an enlightened age such as this people in public life are sufficiently sensitized to this issue and more and more legislation come up to stop stronger people from riding over the weak and meek. India too has several legislations that have become Acts to protect its women folk.
Considering the evils of dowry system, the dowry prohibition Act 1961 was passed in India. According to the Act if a person gives or takes dowry then he directly or indirectly dowry from the guardians of the wife after the marriage has been solemnized then such a person is liable to be punished for an imprisonment of six months and a fine of Rs.5000.
8 Dowry system a curse on Indian Society, Pahlavi Sharma New Delhi.
The investigation in dowry cases should preferably be entrusted to women police officers as far as possible
because they are expected to be socially and psychologically more equipped to handle such cases.
Dowry being a socio-legal problem cannot be tackled by law alone unless members of the society come forward and actively co-operate with the law-enforcement agencies. There is the urgent need to create social awareness and mobilize public opinion against dowry through an intensive educational programme at all levels, particularly in the rural pockets. More recently, a number of voluntary (non-governmental) agencies and social organizations are doing a commendable work in helping the dowry victims and exposing the perpetrators of this crime with the necessary help of community assistance and guidance. The legal aid workers, including the law teachers and students, should also take the initiative in the dowry eradication campaigns through an intensive legal literacy programme not only in the cities and the towns but in remote village areas as well.
Of late, with the growing importance of human rights
jurisprudence, the Human Rights Commission is also
seized with the problem of crime against women and its expanding dimensions. Timely intervention by the local agencies of the commission in dowry-related crimes would certainly contribute to improving women’s conditions and bringing about peace in the matrimonial homes. The Women Commission, established in 1993, should also take a lead in this direction. The Commission should, however, be endowed with statuary powers and authority to bring the culprits of dowry crimes to book and provide adequate to dowry victims.
present study is on the Socio-Economic, Cultural and religious aspects which effect or influence on the women’s rights and the reasons of causing various problems for women victims of Dowry .For the better understanding of the present study, it would be necessary to grasp the information regarding the offences related with dowry imposing major obstacles to lead a healthy family life in the familial atmosphere.
The rising incidences of crimes and violence’s against women are compounded by the massive challenges of caste, ethnic, conflict, religious and revivalist forces. Because of illiteracy and poor out-reach of legal services; women are more often than not ignorant about their rights. In fact there is over whelming evidences to indicate a wide gap between the constitutional mandates and disturbing trends in social reality. The governmental apparatus and society do not appear to have come to terms with the implications of this study area.
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International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 7, July-2012 4
Since the scope of domestic violence against women is very wide, the researcher has confined the study only to the dowry related offences covered under sections
302,304-B, 306, 34,498-A of IPC and the relevant provisions
of the Dowry Prohibition Act and the new laws on the Dowry violence .Cases on only dowry related offences, reported in the Shivamogga district from 2001 to 2010 will be taken up for the detailed study on dowry related offences. Due to time and energy constraints the primary data will be collected only from the victims of dowry related offences which occurred between 2001and 2010. The study intends to cover only Shivamogga District.
To study and analyze how the concept of dowry changed with the passage of time.
To find out the causes for the acceptance of such a cruel practice by the society.
To sociologically analyze whether there is possibility of misuse of the provisions relating to dowry.
To study the socio-economic and educational
profile of the victims.
To examine the socio-cultural aspect related with
the system of dowry.
To determine the various law relating to women and dowry and its consequences.
To study the various modes adopted by the bride or her in-laws to end her life.
To analyze the number of dowry death, dowry
murder, suicide, dowry violence and crimes under dowry Prohibition Act in the study area.
To critically appraise the judicial decisions and the sentencing process on dowry related offences.
To explore the efficacy of the alternative methods
of dispute resolution system including family counseling centers.
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International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 7, July-2012 5
The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe in ‚bride burning‛, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide. It is evident that there exist deep rooted prejudices against women in India. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to subordinate women in Indian society.
Though prohibited by law in 1961, the extraction of
DOWRY from the bride's family prior to marriage still occurs. When the dowry amount is not considered sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often harassed, abused and made miserable.
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