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.
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 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”, 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. This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband or his family burn the bride, often by pouring kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing her. The official records of these incidents are low because they are often reported as accidents or suicides by the family.
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