The Dowry system continues to prevail and burn the sacred union of matrimony in our society, further aggravating anguish, pain, and even murder of women at times. Despite the laws being put in place to forbid the very practice, not much has reformed over the last few decades. The Dowry system gets an open passage in the society despite being a crime.
One would be curious that how Kerala, a state with the highest literacy rate is highly involved with dowry, a sad irony. All this is happening when the state is constantly highlighting the vitality of investing in gender reforms and public education. However, this is also a state influenced by gold and exuberant weddings. A state which is passing on dowry either in the form of cash, property, gold or expensive gifts. These transactions which are made directly and discreetly which set the respect and social status deserved by the woman’s family. In fact in the recent times a number of deaths have also been reported in the state due to issues where the man’s family has not been satisfied with the dowry made available at the marriage. When it comes to the Crime statistics over dowry they explain a more dreadful scenario. In accordance with the crime records of the Kerala state police- 66 cases have been reported for dowry-related deaths and over 15,000 cases of harassment at the hands of husband/relatives have been registered in the last five years. Additionally, the state women’s commission brought forward another set of records which specifies about 1,100 cases reported for dowry-related harassment since 2010 in Kerala. It is saddening to see the capital district of Thiruvananthapuram being host to about half of the cases filed at the center. The figures emphasise that the state’s southern districts are infamous for channelizing the felonious practice.
Dowry is a setback of a larger problem, where the women are not treated equal to men. Even if they are permitted to educate themselves, it is mostly related to a few specific jobs like a nurse or a teacher. The women have restricted mobility and decision making and are still not permitted the space to make autonomous decisions due to which there is a wide gender disparities still exist in the labour market. The data exhibits that Kerala has the highest female unemployment rate in the country according to various rounds of NSSO surveys on employment and unemployment.
Even though the women have achieved a lot in their respective fields they still succumb to dowry deaths or harassment in India. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports on an average, every hour a woman becomes a victim of dowry death in India. It doesn’t really matter where and what woman earns, her identification and the right to live is defined in accordance with the kilos of gold, cash, latest automobiles and appliances she brings in dowry for her in-laws.
Despite of being given equal rights the women in our country are still treated differently as compared to men. Change is needed right at the grass-root level, where parents are happy to invest in a girl child and help her prosper. Parents need to use the money to help the child achieve her dreams and not just save up resources for her dowry. The youth is also an effective source to help abolish this evil practice. They need to take a stand to combat the menace of the dowry system. The state and union governments are the top authorities who need to act at the earliest and devise stricter actions, more welfare schemes, more career opportunities for women to create “honest, efficient, and committed means to overcome this heinous act.