Have you ever thought to see your lovely daughter’s dead body in front of your eyes? Have you been beaten by your husband or mother-in-law when you have a further dream to lead a peaceful life after your marriage? Have you ever had in mind that you could be a victim of dowry? There are so many questions that rise in our mind when we see the dreadful picture of dowry in our society. What is dowry? As a definition, it could be said that dowry means gifts or payment by a bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. At the time of marriage, the parents of a daughter have a desire to get a gentle and polite son-in-law. Due to their wrong concept, they think that after marriage their daughter will have a better life. Are their expectations come in true? In some cases it is yes, but most of the time many girls become the victims of dowry. A groom’s family forces a bride’s family to fulfill their demands before and after the marriage. When the bride’s family is unable to give dowry, the bride has to face many problems and sufferings. When women are in trouble some people think it is a usual matter. Society always tries to ignore this reality. Therefore, the cruel practice of dowry has had a negative impact in women’s life, family and country’s development.
Recently, one of my close friends told me a story about her aunty, who had faced a tragic death. She was killed by her husband and mother-in law after three months of her marriage, but some people think that it was the fate of that woman. My friend told me that her aunty got married at an early age. The parents of the groom’s family were not satisfied with the dowry which brought sufferings for her to death. This is just only a simple example which symbolizes how the dowry system makes women’s life miserable. It is really a shame for Bangladesh that this system is ubiquitous here. Every year thousands of women become the victims of dowry. According to the statement by ALRC, a Human Rights Organization in Bangladesh, “In 2004, 267 women including one child were victimized due to dowry-related matters. Among them, 165 were killed, 77 tortured by acid violence and one were divorced and 11 committed suicide due to incessant dowry demands" (“Dowry: A social evil” n. page).
According to Hafeeza, who was beaten by her husband after two or three days of her marriage,” He became angry and started to beat me. He dragged me from my hair on the road.” As her family was unable to fulfill the demands of her husband, he forced her to work in a factory. As she was helping in earnings according to her husband’s order, he kept beating her for more money while she was pregnant. She again said, “Once my father-in-law became sick. I was three months pregnant. My husband said he needed money to treat his father, asked me to go home and bring my unpaid dowry.” “My family couldn’t get any money to give him, so he beat me, again and again. He said he doesn’t want the child.” “I was sick, I couldn’t go to work. In the garment factory, if we sit down somewhere to rest a little bit, they slap us, and don’t give us money. Then I left my job. My husband became so angry.” He said, “Why did you leave the job without my permission? I don’t want that child, I want money. Eat this medicine and let the child die, so you can go to work again,” Hafeeza cried out (“A Wife’s Darkest Hour: Dowry Violence in Bangladesh” n. page).
This is the usual situation that is happening in our society. According to recent reports, in the first half of 2009, 119 cases of dowry-related domestic violence were reported, 78 of which resulted in death. Ain O Salish Kendo, a prominent human rights group in Bangladesh, published that 172 and 187 women died due to dowry-related domestic violence in 2007 and 2008 (“A wife’s darkest hour: Dowry violence in Bangladesh” n. page).
Those are some statistics and examples that represent how many women become sufferer because of dowry system. It degrades the position of women in society as well as the country’s reputation.
The dowry system is responsible for child marriage and discrimination between genders. Bangladesh is a South-Asian country in which child marriages still exist at a high rate. According to Dispatches International, in July 6, 2010, more than two thirds of adolescent girls get married, and about two among five girls, between the ages of 15 and 17 are already married. As a result, more than half of the adolescent girls in Bangladesh become mothers when they are only 19 years old, half of these are malnourished. The national mortality rate reported that in Asia, especially in Bangladesh, every year 11,000 women die when they give birth to children. Furthermore, the dowry system takes away the opportunity from girls to get an education, and if fortunately anyone gets education her dowry increases (“A wife’s darkest hour: Dowry violence in Bangladesh, n. page”).
Women face physical and mental tortures when they can’t fulfill the demands of their husbands. Husbands beat their wife terribly without thinking about her health and feelings. Sabena, one of the victims of dowry spoke to the media about her husband’s tortures. “He beats me. He was very angry because we didn’t give him anything. Now he beats me for everything.” Additionally, she described that her husband sometimes punched her in the stomach, so her unborn died. Hammeza, another victim of dowry said that husbands have no sympathy when they beat their wives. She told that her husband tortured her like an animal. Even her husband didn’t listen to any request, he just beat her. Like this, every day hundreds of women are tortured by their husbands for dowry. These physical tortures turn to mental tortures. Women can’t share their feelings with anyone. As a result, they always feel afraid about their future and child, which can lead to suicide. A study by Johns Hopkins University in the United States, explained that dowry violence causes different effects in health and mentality such as- chronic depression, eating disorders and malnutrition, as well as repeated self-injury, sexual dysfunction, low self- esteem, suicide attempts, and eventually death. According to the Asian Legal Resource Center’s (ALRC) stated, “Dowry related-violence against women in Bangladesh is alarming, and includes such terrible cases as the murder and gang rape of a girl in the 22nd day of her marriage because her family failed to pay the full dowry claim” (“Dowry: A social evil” n.page).
Dowry not only brings curse for women but also for their children. The study from John Hopkins showed that because of dowry violence women are at higher risk of miscarriages, childbirths, and they are at risk of giving birth to children of low weights, which leads to neonatal and infant death. Furthermore, because of malnourishment their children are likely to be malnourished and contract diseases. Those children who notice their parents to quarrel, and witness physical torture of their mother, they might in risk of less emotional and physical development. They may feel guilty themselves for their mothers’ position, which might effect on their academic life as well as their future. Also, it may develop negative effects such as- behavioral problems, depression, low self-esteem, and drug or alcohol abuse. They might involve themselves in crime and devastating works which would never help them to trust any relationships and in humanity. It could create a mentality of violence against women that they might follow in future (“A wife darkest hour: Dowry violence in Bangladesh” n.page).
Dowry has a negative impact on a bride’s family. Parents nurture their girls with great enthusiasm. They hope that one day their daughter will get married a nice person, and she might have a happy family. Sometimes their wishes never come true. When a girl gets married, her parents have to pay money before and after her marriage, and sometimes they need to spend their savings or productive capital. As a result, they can’t afford money for their livelihood. They face great problems to survive.
Dowry is the cruelest practice in our society. When women face experiences of torture in their mother-in-laws’ house, they feel insecure for their daughters’ future. For this reason, they don’t want to give birth to a female child. They think it would bring curse the for their daughters’ life. Not only women in family but also men ignore female children as a part of their family. Before birth if they know they are going to have a daughter they abort and kill the child. Because of dowry system daughters can’t get the light of education. Parents think that if they waste money for their education, again they have to give dowry in their marriages. On the other hand, they provide education for their male children. It is clear that dowry is a hindrance to women’s’ development in society.
The dowry system hinders the country’s development. In Bangladesh, half of the populations are women. So, it’s clear that women could have a big influence on our country’s development. The existence of dowry in society obliges parents not to give the light of education for their daughters. They think giving money in their daughters’ marriage is much better than wasting money in education. It is a cultural superstition that parents have been following for many years. In their viewpoint, dowry works as security in their daughters’ family and it brings reputation, so they want to provide dowry. As a result, many daughters are not getting the light of education, then how they can engage themselves in the country’s development. On the other hand, society is also against women’s development. If women’s development is impossible then the country’s development can never happen. It is only the dowry which is working as a barrier between women’s and the country’s development.
Though women are tortured by their husbands, they have different opinions about their life. Many women don’t want to go against their husbands. From a religious perspective, they believe that if their husbands get hurt by them, it will bring a curse for their life. From childhood parents teach a daughter, “After marriage your husband will be everything, so you have to respect him unless anything happens to you.” So women don’t want to hurt their husbands. Shaheen, a woman who was terribly tortured by her husband after eight years of her marriage, believed that living with a husband while bearing physical and mental abuses was written in her fate from before birth. She didn’t go against her husband otherwise she believed that she can’t go to heaven after death. These strong beliefs of women don’t give them any chance to change their position in the society (“Dowry system: perspective Bangladesh” n. page).
According to my viewpoint, women are responsible for their own position. When women will understand about their rights and needs, then only society might change their perception against women. I was really shocked to know that a women’s fate depends on society and in their decisions. Society always makes rules and regulations against women to hinder their development. In our society everyone discusses women’s rights, but they don’t take steps for improving women situations. They think women have no rights to speak out in front of men. They are in society just only to bear torture. I am really against that fact, because in my point of view women have all the capabilities to make change and to make a better world. They will be more superior to men if they get prospects. In this respect, every single person in our society has some responsibilities to provide them all sorts of rights and needs. Society should consider women an asset, not a curse.
As women, their children, their family and country are facing problems for dowry, situations need to change soon. First, women need to be conscious about their rights. When women understand their rights, then only this cruel practice would stop. To prevent this matter, people from all sections especially men need to join to solve this problem. The government should keep emphasis on laws against dowry and apply some strict punishments. Though, people take dowry secretly, the government should be concerned about this matter. In addition, government must take attempts to bring equality between the male and female. The girls’ guardians must be alert about this issue, and they should provide their daughters with proper education. The families must not be fearful for social shame, but they should take action and protest against dowry. They must encourage their daughter not to bear the torture that they face for dowry and raise their voice. If these steps are taken to solve dowry violence, it is quite sure that the picture of our country will change and women will have freedom to justify their own life.
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