Is there any impact of education in solving dowry issues?
The article ‘Is there any impact of education in solving dowry issues?’ by Snehil Sharma laments the dowry system in India, and in various ways, this system has an adverse impact on the life of a woman. Although the author specifically mentions that education has brought a positive change and definitely increased confidence in women. But still, there are requirements for various steps to be taken to remove this issue, and the steps must be taken to remove the gender gap and orthodox thoughts of the people.
A Brief Introduction: Dowry
A dowry is a gift given by the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of the wedding, typically in the form of property or cash. But unfortunately, there is the absence of a voluntary element, and thus the bride’s family has to pay it to fix their daughter’s marriage. We live in a society where the word modern is often used but modern in what ways? Modern in food, clothing, and style but not in thoughts, and thus it’s a misery that even the birth of a girl child in Indian families still scares them. This is because, ultimately, they have to make arrangements for huge payments to the groom’s family to settle their daughter. But a new ray of hope began when Indian Families started giving priority to female education, and this is definitely the first positive step to bring positive change in the life of a woman or it’s just like wings to the women to fly ahead with their own choices. But still, the dowry system is not completely abolished.
Most prevalent in societies where women are expected to live with or close to their husband’s family and strong patrilineal traditions prevail (patrilocality).
Origin of Dowry in the context of ancient, medieval, and modern Periods
Dowry is a long-standing practice that has been referenced in some of the earliest writings and may have existed since ancient times. In some parts of the world, mostly in sections of Asia, dowries are still anticipated and demanded as a requirement to accept a marriage proposal. Its origins in India date back to medieval times when a bride’s family would offer her a present in money or kind to help her maintain her independence after marriage. It became the sole acceptable method of marriage during the colonial era after the British made dowry a requirement. With its rising economy and in its modern sense, India is currently promoting an upward trend in bride costs across all socioeconomic strata.
Dowry System a Social Evil
Dowry is a social evil that has led to unspeakable murders and tortures against women. Evil has claimed the lives of women from all social classes, including the poor, middle class, and wealthy. However, because of their lack of understanding and education, the poor are more likely to succumb to it and become victims. The dowry system is to blame for the fact that daughters are not as esteemed as sons. They have frequently been considered a liability in society and are frequently oppressed and treated unfairly, whether in terms of amenities like schooling or other services.
In addition to abolishing the dowry system, the government has introduced numerous laws and changes today to improve the status of girls by implementing various programmes.
It is now up to society as a whole to recognise and comprehend the issue. We must all actively work to bring about the required change and stop offering or accepting dowries. We must all be aware that we must begin by valuing our girls so that when they mature, others will do the same.
Dowry adversely affects the life of women in India
– Crime against women ranges from emotional abuse and injury to even deaths
Women who are unable to make the required dowry payment or further payments in the future are frequently harassed and mistreated. In other instances, husbands or in-laws will light a woman on fire or hurl acid at her. The violence includes severe beatings, psychological torture, denial of financial support, eviction from the home, separation from the children, and publicly maintaining mistresses. If the agreed-upon dowry is not delivered, the in-laws may start acting violently and verbally abusing their daughters-in-law.
The terms “dowry deaths” and “dowry murder” refer to the suicide or murder of a bride by her husband and his family shortly after the wedding as a result of their displeasure with the dowry. Usually, it is the result of a string of earlier domestic abuse incidents by the husband’s family. The majority of dowry killings happen when the young woman hangs herself or takes poison because she can no longer take the harassment and abuse. Bride burning is another form of dowry killing in which the bride is doused with kerosene and burned by the husband or his relatives. Sometimes the bride may wind up burning herself on fire as a result of aiding in suicide.
Physical, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse are just a few of the abusive and threatening behaviours that go under the umbrella of “domestic violence,” which also encompasses isolation, intimidation, and compulsion. Laws like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, of 2005 aid in preventing domestic violence and defending the rights of women. Domestic violence includes deaths and violent acts related to dowry demands. Physical, emotional, and economic abuse, as well as harassment intended to coerce compliance or punish the victim, are acts utilised in dowry-related offences, which are analogous to domestic violence.
Abetment to Suicide
A lady may commit herself if her spouse and his relatives continue to mistreat her and threaten her with danger. In these circumstances, the dowry crime can even include acts and attempts that wilfully counsel, advocate, or aid in committing suicide. A woman may feel helpless and desperate after receiving a dowry, which can lead to emotional anguish and abuse.
Anti-Dowry Law in India
The anti-dowry law in India makes dowry unlawful. Any conduct in India that involves receiving or giving dowry is illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The anti-dowry law has a maximum 5-year prison sentence and a fine of Rs. 15,000 or the amount of dowry given, whichever is greater. In order to take the proper legal action against her husband or his family members, any woman who has been the victim of dowry in India needs to speak with a dowry lawyer. Both cruelty and domestic violence for dowry demands and dowry killings are prohibited by the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 304B and 498A, respectively. The IPC deems the offence non-bailable, therefore the accused spouse or family member cannot get bail.
Impact of Education in solving Dowry Malady
As per Mahatma Gandhi, some of the important features of education were that education should be free and accessible to all. Meaning to say, it should be easy for children to get opportunities for learning and studying and the same should not be restricted to any particular class based on distinctions such as caste or gender. Thus it can be said that he favoured the elimination of gender discrimination and preached the same in regard to education as well. It was important for people to understand the need to educate women so as to make them aware of their rights and avoid atrocities.
More education leads to greater confidence which can assist women in being aware of their rights. Along with being aware, this confidence will give them the liberty to raise their voices at instances where their self-respect, safety and security are put in jeopardy.
Reports on the Increase of Female Education and its Impact on Society
Over the past three decades, women’s literacy rates have increased, and they have increased more rapidly than male literacy rates. By the end of 2001, 54.16% of Indian women were literate, compared to only 22% in 1971. In comparison to the rise of the male literacy rate, which is 11.72%, the growth of the female literacy rate is 14.87%. In addition to encouraging their girl children’s education, educated women are better able to guide their entire family. In consequence, educated women can contribute to population increase and a decline in newborn mortality.
Being educated also implies greater opportunities for getting employment. An educated woman who has a career of her own gains a sense of financial independence. This further motivates her to build a life of her own where she is respected and treated with dignity and thus, she would not settle for anything less.
Education- An effective strategy to fight against dowry
Even though people are educated, they need to reinterpret a deep-seated belief. In order to eradicate the dowry system from India, it is crucial to educate people about the negative effects of social crimes. There are two approaches: First is to educate men about inappropriate behaviour in marriage. Men should be aware that marriage is a union based on love and happiness, not wealth. We can only solve the Dowry System issue if the individual who is directly engaged is made aware of it.
Educating women about their capabilities and the fact that they are not toys to be bought and paid for at the same time is one more strategy to combat the scourge known as the Dowry System. A woman should understand that the Dowry System is wicked and that supporting it by accepting what is going on around her is a crime, regardless of whether she is literate or illiterate, wealthy or poor, young or old. Women from all throughout the nation should get together and confront those who take advantage of them.
In the case of Prem Singh v. State of Haryana, Criminal Appeal No. 569 of 2014. The accused who were found guilty of dowry death were sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of ten years and to pay a fine of Rs 5000 each.
In other cases of Kans Raj v. State of Punjab & Ors., (Crl.) 688-90 of 1993, it was held that, in cases involving dowry deaths, the facts demonstrating the existence of cruelty or harassment against the deceased do not just pertain to one specific incident but rather, in most cases, to a pattern of behaviour that may span a period of time. The prosecution must demonstrate a direct and current nexus between the dowry demand-based cruelty that resulted in the deceased’s death and that brutality. There shouldn’t be too much time between the demand for dowry and the brutality and harassment that results from it.
Dowry is not only against the law, but it’s also wrong. In order for the demand for dowry to result in “loss of face” in society for those who make it, society’s conscience must be completely aroused to the injustices of the dowry system. The dowry system is nothing new, but it has existed in our culture for a very long time. It is now time to entirely eliminate the system, and in order to do so, we must begin at home by swearing neither to accept nor to provide a dowry. Even though we have numerous anti-dowry legislation, the dowry system continues to exist in our culture, which leads to criminality and abuse against women. This is a threat to our society, and in the guise of dowry, individuals indulge in their greed, which knows no bounds.
i) Multi-Stakeholder approach
Dowry is a complex issue, thus society should make every effort to achieve gender balance. In order to address gender disparity, States should examine gender-disaggregated statistics across the life cycle, including birth, early childhood, education, nutrition, livelihood, access to healthcare, etc. Expanding childcare and secure public transportation is necessary, as are lowering hiring prejudice and fostering affirming work cultures. Men should share caregiving and domestic duties at home.
ii) Need to bring Gender Parity
The dowry system dehumanises women by seeing them as commodities that may be traded rather than as individuals. A bride’s family is required to reimburse the groom’s family for the cost of caring for the bride, which only makes matters worse because the system views them as a burden to be shared rather than an asset. Therefore, every dowry paid serves to perpetuate the idea that women are less valuable than males. This idea needs to be altered if women are to be saved from the perils of dowry.
iii) Individuals Effort
Every individual person should contribute his part in eradicating the evils of dowry and this can be done by raising a voice whenever any case of dowry is witnessed. It is important to educate and make women aware of their rights so that they are able to use them.
Role of State and Central Government
It is important for the state as well as central government to play their role of regulating society in a manner that eliminates immoral and redundant practices such as dowry. This can be done by them by way of introducing relevant laws. If stricter laws are brought into the picture, then they can assist in restricting the practices of dowry in households, and this will, in turn, help the women to empower themselves. Empowerment will happen by way of women having greater rights because of the laws put in place.
 Surbhi Chaudhry, Dowry and Dowry Death, Available Here
 R. Jagmohan Rao, Dowry System in India- A socio-legal approach to the problem, Available Here
 Shashwat Pratyush, Dowry Deaths in India: A legal study, Available Here
With Contribution from: Apurva Neel