Blog Issue No. 11
Blog written by Brey Fuhrmann for Sharktooth Living and edited by Justice Fuegen, owner of Sharktooth Living
*We want to preface this blog by saying we are in no way, shape or form biased against a religion or culture based on its beliefs system. We not only love and honor cultural and religious diversity around the world, but embrace our differences and have committed ourselves to continue learning about cultures and practices outside our own. With that being said, we want to touch on one subject known as the Dowery system in India.*
“Dowry is payment made in cash or kind to a bride’s in-laws at the time of her marriage. The amount depends on a large number of factors, including region, horoscope, groom’s education, bride’s skin tone, and the negotiation skills of both the families involved. To put it simply, dowry is a gift (usually money) given from the bride to the grooms family to solidify the marriage.” (Kavya Sukumar, 2017)
The dowry system in India was outlawed in 1961, yet modern women of India are still very much affected by it today. Aside from lack of support for a women's gender and her rights, there are very real issues that arise with the dowry system.
Issues like domestic abuse, child marriage, gender inequality, mass un-education in women, and gender infanticide are just a few of the worst. Many women are abused and even killed as a result of the dowry system because their families cannot make dowry payments. Other times, they seek suicide as a way to escape abuse or to release their family from future dowry payments. Some women have been set on fire or drenched in acid and never allowed to see their children again. It’s estimated that roughly 8,000 women die each year due to the dowry system.
The dowry system also allows the possibility for child marriage. Most women are married off in their early twenties, but when a family is unable to afford large dowries, they marry their daughter off before age 18 to keep the payments lower. India continues to see a rise in this problem and predicts the number of girls married off before reaching adulthood will pass a billion women in the next 30 years.
Another way to keep dowry prices lower is to keep girls from school. After all, the more educated a girl is, the more her price increases. Treating these girls and women as property is an unethical, disgusting practice that we must fight to end.
Gender Infanticide is an issue that hits us hard. As we mentioned, a woman is viewed as a financial burden to her family, so naturally it would be preferable to birth a male. Unfortunately for Indian women, a babies' sex is outside of a mother's control. Because of this, it's not uncommon for a mother to abort a female baby or allow her to die after she is born, either by neglecting her or intentionally killing her by drowning or smothering.
The Dowry System strips a woman of her rights. She has no choice in her future. She cannot choose who she will marry, or when she marries him. And if this man she is now bound to my marriage abuses her in any way, she is stuck in that marriage until death due her part. If she chooses to pursue a divorce, massive amounts of social shame is put on her (something truly unimaginable).
She cannot get an education that surpasses her husband's and she should never earn more than him.
Is your heart yet burdened for our Indian sisters around the globe?
The first step in stopping this toxic system is educating our girls! Give them the education they have a right to and encourage them to follow their own career paths (yes, even if she ends up a *gasp* doctor with a large *gulp* paycheck).
Women should be treated equally to men and should be given the independence they deserve. Let’s raise our girls up and teach them they don’t need a man to provide for them, but rather can choose a life partner for themselves, if they want to. Teach them that earning and learning is good and to fight for equality socially and the work force.