Ever since ancient times of the Vedas, dowry has been a tormenting part of Indian marriages. Sad but true the evil of killing the girl child, which is one of the worst crime against women, came up from the practice of dowry system. In ancient days, when the evil cause was more seriously followed by people of all castes, the poor ones thought of killing the girl child when they were born to get rid of paying heavy amounts as dowry. Enlightenment came, reforms were made, yet these evil practices continue to ruin lives of women everywhere. In 1961, Dowry Prohibition Act was passed, but still more than 10,000 dowry cases are registered every year. Some of these are genuine complaints of tortured women but then there are some cases which mark the misuse of this law. The home ministry has recently asked all state governments to be judicious in invoking the stringent anti-dowry section of IPC in matrimonial disputes as the provision may be used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives.
Dowry prohibition law should be strict:
1. Bride burning and torturing of women for dowry is still an integral part of Indian marriages, especially amongst the poor and illiterate families, who are unfortunately the major part of Indian population. Only strict laws and punishments can ensure that the violator of the law pays the price for harassing women. Any sort of relaxation to the law would lessen the fear amid already fearless people who commit such inhuman acts.
2. Female infanticide, sex detection and abortion are all crimes that initiated from the evil practice of dowry system. If equal rights and freedom is to be given to women in India, the root cause of the evil has to be removed first. It is only then that we could stop other crimes against women.’
3. The narrow mindedness of the society that feels the birth of a girl child is a burden on their parents has to be removed. Instead of feeling blessed, the parents begin planning on how they will get her married when time comes and what all they will have to save for her marriage. A girl’s right to education gets left behind these thoughts. For a developing country, the contribution of well educated women is of great importance. A complete ban on dowry system is the sole solution to achieve this.
4. Gender inequality prevails in India and dowry system is one of the reasons why it is still popular even when women are coming ahead in all fields of science, economics, politics, and even in army and air forces. To treat a son and daughter equal, it is important for the parents to realize that they don’t have to spend all the savings of their life to get her married one day.
5. Marriage is about promise of being together in good and bad times. The dowry system makes it a trade where one party pays the other party for not harassing their daughter. If they fail to fulfill their greedy demands, the daughter is burnt to death. Only strict laws can stop this kind of evil practices.
Dowry prohibition law should be amended:
1. False complaints have been detected in many cases and some of them have spoilt lives of men and their family. In order to trouble the in-laws or revenge the husband for a dispute, insane women file false complaints of dowry harassment which in turn proves life spoiler to the husband. Some of them lost reputation, years in jail, loss of job and businesses, and some even committed suicide after being penalized for a deed they never committed. It is extremely necessary that these laws should be amended to help preventing such cases.
2. There has been great rise in dowry complaints in recent times. The National Crime Records Bureau statistics has it that nearly 200,000 people, including 47,951 women, were arrested for dowry offences in 2012, but only 15% of them were convicted. This shows that the law is being misused and needs amendment.
3. The women who are abused for dowry are usually of the poverty struck areas and they hardly make use of this law. There are thousands of dowry harassment cases that are not even reported. It is not laws that solve all the matter. Educating men and women is necessary. They need to know that both have equal rights and evil practices such as dowry is punishable offence.
4. Non bail laws of dowry harassment leads to arrest of innocent men too and that also without an investigation. This kind of law leaves easy loops for being misused.
Dowry system is an evil practice, no doubt, but the law must be further amended to ensure justice to both men and women. Home ministry correctly instructed their police officers not to automatically arrest a person when a case under Section 498A of IPC is registered but they must satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down flowing from Section 41, CrPC.