Kd's e-pathsala My Journals Dowry System and its Effect in India

Dowry System and its Effect in India

Das, Koushik (September, 2020). Dowry System and its Effect in India. An Insight Into Social Issues, ISBN: 978-81-944997-2-5, Vol-1, 79-90.

Dowry System and its Effect in India

ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009 implicates deep-rooted culture and social norms as influential contribution factors towards physical and intimate partner violence against women. The dowry is a social practice that perpetuates the harassment, torture, killing of women in India. This kind of social disorder brings heavy threats to the life of female. Dowry is an age old practice in Indian society; it is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money by one party to another in time of marriage. The origin of dowry basically was the contribution of In-laws’ house with the intention to help husband economical condition. This custom was started in the medieval period. This menace is the root cause of almost all violence against a married woman. In most cases after marriage the problem of dowry will arise. If the wife is not able to provide all, which her husband and in laws demand, her life in the groom’s house become miserable. She will be treated cruelly and in some cases she may lose her life. The present review of literature reveals that the despite effort on the part of the Indian government, social activists, feminists organization in India, not much can change what was going on the past decade, in fact the problem so much increased and its result amount of mortality and morbidity among women in India. So, the paper highlighted how much extent dowry system is affecting our society, how much society suffers from this social practice and how to prevent.

KEYWORDS: Dowry, Marriage, Dowry death, Settlement.

INTRODUCTION: Meaning of Dowry

“Who makes dowry a pre- condition for his marriage, not only shows disrespect to women but also humiliates his own nation, education and womanhood and such young person’s should be socially boycotted”. 

                                                                                                                Mahatma Gandhi[1]

Marriage is an auspicious ceremony which unites two bodies’ two souls. It’s a lifelong bonding of one man and one woman but to the great extent, the major problem is of “dowry culture” in our society. Women are the greatest gift of God to humanity, they possesses the power to create what is good and destroy what is bad. Tulsidas, Kalidas, Surdas the great Indian poets were also inspired by their better halves in their literary ventures. Women are mothers they give birth and nurture; they do cooking, sewing and washing; they take care of men and are subordinate to male authority; they are largely excluded from high status occupations and from positions of power. These generalizations apply, to some degree, to practically every known human society. India the second highest populous country of the world comprises women as half of its total population. Women of ancient India, especially during the Vedic and Indus Civilisation, they received a Divine honor and respect, they were supposed to worshipped as Goddesses as a part of society she used to perform her independent role, as she was given more prominence in decision making in the social institution and also they connected to all rituals that happened in society. Even going by the great epics we find that the position of women was not only on par with that of men, but it was also an authoritative one. Practices like Swayamvara where the women had the freedom to choose her husband from the vast choice on the one hand of a lady in marriage was in practice she was not only a homemaker, but also a decision maker in the early society. According to Manushastra, the place of women in the society was very low and also politically women stood on the same footing as that of men. And gradually her position in society tends to go down and their social, economic and political independence gradually began to pass into the hands of men. 



Dowry system is one of the most prevalent sins in India. This is not today’s problem that people are facing but in actual this problem has affected people from centuries. Women’s rights have been exploited on the name of dowry system. So many girls in India stay unmarried because their parents cannot meet the demands. The existence of (gross) dowry has been interpreted as evidence that women pay for marriage (Tertilt, 2005). The idea that a women should receive a marriage settlement from her family is long-established in India. Classical Hindu texts have identified such property as Stridhanam, and it may be regarded, according to Khare, as ‘part of the sacred cultural concept of kanyadan’ (lit. ‘Gift of a maiden’ in marriage). 

Tambiah argues that ‘dowry connotes female property or female rights to property which is transferred at a woman’s marriage as a sort of pre-mortem inheritance”. It refers to the traditional items, such as jewels, cooking vessels or other household goods, and clothes which accompany a bride to her conjugal home. (Tambiah,1973).

On the other hand, and perhaps more significantly, ‘dowry’ refers equally, sometimes exclusively, to the ‘gifts’-often conceived by the givers as demands for payment (Beck, I972)-which a bride’s parents make over to the parents of the bridegroom, or to the bridegroom himself, to enjoy as they or he please. These transfers may involve such modern consumer items as refrigerators, scooters, motor cars, and even houses, but most frequently the transactions are reported to be in cash.

Social anthropologists have often talked about it in ethnographies focused primarily on other subjects, but their reasoning has usually been limited to explaining it away as a consequence of ‘Sanskritization’. This is a term used by Srinivas to explain the adoption of upper-caste patterns of behavior by members of lower castes as a means of acquiring higher social status. Since dowries have traditionally been the common marriage transaction of the highest (Brahmin) caste, Sanskritization explains the observed shift in regime from bride price to dowry in all the other castes as upwardly mobile imitative behavior. Evidence suggests that the custom of giving dowry has traditionally been more prevalent in north than in south India, and in the latter region, more commonly found among Brahmans than others (Miller, I980)

Arrange marriages characterize in the Indian marriage system; parents of a daughter are often tried and willing to provide a good dowry (good amount of money, different gift items etc) to secure the status in her family as well as suitable husband for her, partly to avoid the prospect of the daughter’s long-term dependence on the parents (Krishnaswamy, 1995). Muslims and members of lower status tribes, for example, are less likely than others to support the dowry system. These differences do not portend social change unless the proportions of the population in these categories are increasing, which is not the case. (Srinivasan, 2004)



  1. To verify that to how much the dowry system is affecting our society.
  2. To examine the points of view of society towards dowry system?
  3. To figure out the suggestion to prevent dowry.



Kanyadanam is an important part of Hindu marital rites, ‘Kanya’ means unmarried girl and ‘Dana’ means gift. The system of kanyadanam (giving away the bride) followed by Varadakshina (gift to the bridegroom at the time marriage) may have given increase to dowry. The concept of Kanyadanam is comes from the Rij Veda. In ancient India it was the part of the custom to give dakshina (obligatory gifts) after any kind of daan (voiuntary gifts), hence the tradition of varadakshina following kanyadanam. Rishi Karva gave a number of gifts to his daughter Shakuntala, when she married king Dushyant.

In present the purpose of a dowry was to provide money of property for the establishment of a new household or to help husband feed and protect his family, this like a husband had a certain property rights in his wife’s dowry. In addition, the wife might bring to the marriage to the property of her own, which was not included in the dowry and which was, as a result, hers alone. This property was “beyond the dowry” (Greek: parapherna, the root of paraphernalia) and was known as paraphernal property. Even in the oldest records, such as the code of Hammurabi, the dowry is described as an already-existing customs. According to the law involved with this custom, the wife being entitled to her dowry at her husband’s death as part of her dower, her dowry being inheritable only by her own children, not by her husband’s children by other women and a women not being claimant to an inheritance if her parents had provided her dowry in marriage. If women died without children then her husband had to refund the dowry but could deduct the value of the bride price, in this case the dowry value would normally have been larger of the sums. There is a other function of dowry has been to serve as a form of protection for the wife against the possibility of ill treatment by her husband and his family. By the way the dowry provides an incentive to the husband not to harm his wife.



It is observed that the function of dowry are variously perceived by different segments of the society, since the perception of the practice as a problem are conditioned by the different interest, standards and expectation of the diverse group that make up the society. It is obvious that the practice was not totally seen with disfavour and even though many people advocated against it, almost all were found practicing it. This could be one of the reasons why movements against dowry did not gain ground. Without dowry it is not possible to get a good groom for the daughter.

Dowry refers as below:

  • Dowry is referred Dahez in Arabic, it is the process in cash of gift or some kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family along with the giving of the bride, it is called Kanyadan in Indian marriage. Kanyadanam is a very important part of Hindu marital rites.
  • A dowry (also known as trousseau or ocher or, in Latin, dos) is the cash, gifts or estate that a lady conveys to her husband in marriage. It is contrast with Bride Price, which is paid by the bride’s parents; it is considered the groom’s own property after the marriage.
  • Dowry or Hunda as it also know is paid in cash, property, gold or kind by the bride’s family to the groom’s family along with the giving away of the bride (Kanayadanam).  The word hunda came from handa which means a pot. This could be due to new extinct practice of offering dowry in a pot.



  • Social Status: In India, losing a marriage proposal is very detrimental to the status of girl’s family. In this case, the family tries to give all their financial resources to the daughter at the time of daughter marriage so that they do not bow their heads in the society.
  • Greed: When the family gives dowry to a groom’s family they expect it is for his daughter education, career and wealth but bride’s education, career, and wealth are completely disregarded, as she is not given equal societal status to a man. So in the end dowry can be justified through the influence of greed for material and monetary benefits.
  • Weak Implementation of Anti-Dowry Laws: Over the years, the Indian government has drafted several legislatures to bring the dowry system under control, include the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005. However, although various steps have been taken legally, but the implementation of such laws is ineffective due to mass participation.
  • Lack of Education: Lack of the education is one of the major reasons behind the long history of such social practice in India. Lack of the education is a cause of these evil phenomena. The girl’s family, unaware and unknowledgeable of the laws and legislation, face outrageous financial ultimatums, which when not met, lead to the mistreatment of their daughter.
  • Economy: The economic factors influence the dowry system in many ways, some of these included inheritance system and the bride’s economic status. Some suggestions point to economics and weak legal institutions on inheritance place women in disadvantage, with inheritance being left only to sons. This leaves women dependent upon their husbands and in-laws, who keep the dowry when she marries.



The Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.), Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) and Indian Evidence Act (I.E.A.) under the criminal law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 and by President of India to deal with dowry death cases and of cruelty caused to married women. (Mithun, T., Sreelatha, Dr. A (2018)[1].


At the point when the passing of a wedded lady is caused by any consumes or substantial damage or happens under irregular or suspicious conditions inside seven years of her marriage span and it is obviously appeared that soon before her demise she was subjected to cold-bloodedness or badgering or torment by her better half or any relative of her spouse or in laws for, or in association with, any interest for settlement, such passing should be called as “settlement passing”, and such spouse or relative or in law s esteemed to have caused her demise. Whoever confers endowment passing might be rebuffed with detainment for a term least of seven years which may reach out to detainment forever.


This section speaks about cruelty caused to women by husband or relative of the husband. Whoever being the spouse or the relative of the spouse or in law of a lady, subjects such lady to cold-bloodedness or provocation or torment might be rebuffed with detainment for a term which may reach out up to three years and to pay fine. The mercilessness can be either mental or then again physical torment which drives the ladies to confer suicide or to cause genuine damage, or on the other hand threat to life or wellbeing.


This section deals with presumption of abetment of suicide of a married woman. At the point when the inquiry is whether the commission of suicide by lady had been abetted by her better half or any relative her better half and it is demonstrated that she had conferred suicide inside a time of seven a long time from the date of her oversee and her spouse or such relative of her better half had subjected to remorselessness, the court may assume, having respect to the various conditions of the case, that such suicide had been abetted by her better half or by such relative of her better half.


This section deals with presumption of dowry death. At the point when the inquiry is whether a man has conferred the share passing of a lady and it is demonstrated that soon before her demise, such lady had been subjected by such individual to remorselessness or provocation for, or in association with, any interest for endowment, the court might assume that such individual had caused the share passing.



Why do dowry deaths occur? This was the main issues of social factors in present trends. Share is a social sin, which is normal among upper and white-collar classes of Hindu group of India and is the key factors for unnatural passing in recently wedded brides since years. Other than share, ignorance, organized or love relatives unions, child relative unions, joint family structure, oedipal amazingness of relative, joblessness, and monetary reliance of spouse on their people, shut entire reliance of girl or their spouse and/or in-laws, intoxication, remorselessness, and quality of the spouses and want of social security among Hindu girls are other contributory elements influencing the marital status in a one, or other ways. Share possesses simply one finish of the shore of social abuse ocean; within an identical field are measure cold-bloodedness, punishment and attack, physical or mental tormenting, and so forth. After marriage of a young lady is push into an obscure world what’s more, is caught into a system of uncertainties what’s more, hence she is completely on the benevolence of the spouse or potentially his family who may or won’t care for her.



The practice of Dowry is a very crucial question to be answered in the present society. Uncountable numbers of women’s family was not able to pay the huge amount of money which they are asking for the marriage. After marriage also these girls are facing severe kind of threats from their in-laws. Sometimes this leads to the mental depression of the women, alienation in the family, and in society, separation from husband and ultimately the suicide. Settlement demise is a consuming everyday issue of the Indian culture as well as tradition in our society. This social reviles must be assaulted by a multi pronged and composed approach by the police, ladies welfare associations, presumed open workers, and legal and by granting hindrance discipline to all guilty parties. In any case a change in instructive status of the females and giving less demanding opening for work at the entryway step or independent work office will help to confine the occurrence of share, and also instruction come mindfulness projects ought to be composed comfortable time of marriage to stop the spouse from devouring mixers, drugs, mental torture, physical torture like to hand biting, confining to monogamy and gaining cash sincerely by sheer diligent work instead of creating desire for income sans work. The most severe in bride burning, the burning of women whose dowries was not sufficient by their husband, in-laws. In this case most of the incidents is reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide; it is the evident that, there exist deep-rooted prejudices against women in India. The threats of dowry are largely eating the life of the women in India. We should provide a proper education in a girl child for improving their respect in our society. Education is a main instrument to use for preventing to try dowry death and empowering the women.



Boycott of giving and taking settlement disallowance Act, 1961, is the one which is most ordinarily or simply tested since its starting all over throughout the nation. There’s no difference there is an ever expanding or increasingly wrongdoing against women’s hands of their spouses and/or in-laws. To manage this segment 304, also 498 A (husband or relatives of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty in the Indian Penal code in the mid 1980s. A re-assessment of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 ought to be done again as the law has as a matter of fact neglected to control the wrongdoing against ladies, and the result neglected to create the crucial outcomes. In addition, the Dowry Forbiddance Act 1961 being an incomparable demonstration, usually police do not make stride or take much consideration in it, bigger identity since offenses under the demonstration are dealt with as cognizable offenses for sure constrained purposes.



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