Tuesday, 23 July, 2024

Do Away With Dowry

It is appalling to note that the dowry practice is prevalent in Nepal, especially in the Terai communities. Although Nepal has introduced the Social Customs and Practices Act, the social evil has become one of the root causes of violence against women. The Act prohibits asking for or taking or giving of dowry as a criminal offence. Notwithstanding her qualification, a girl requires a lot of dowry to be the choice of a so-called well-to-do family as it is the first priority of the boy’s family. Without finalising the dowry deal, the boy’s side does not jump to the next step of wedding process. Thus, the social status of women from the Terai origin has deteriorated, to a great extent. Because of such a deep-rooted social problem, they usually face various forms of harassment when their parents fail to meet the demands made by their husbands’ families for cash and goods. Even the newly-wed girls are found killing themselves. When the boy’s family does not get the dowry, they even do not fall behind murdering the girl.

As per a news report published in this daily the other day, people get married only after middlemen negotiate the dowry even when voices are being raised to end the evil practice entrenched in the Terai region. The State 2 government has come up with a campaign entitled ‘Educate Girls, Save Girls’ in order to eradicate the practice of dowry. However, the anti-dowry drive has failed to gather momentum as it is an established social evil. In line with the Hindu culture, Nepali months of Mangsir, Magh, Falgun, Baisakh, Jestha and Ashad are regarded as auspicious time for marriage. Since the beginning of Magh (mid-January to mid-February), people in the southern plains have begun preparing for weddings. Human rights activists have revealed the fact that the process of marriage starts only after the middlemen negotiate the cash and property that is to be provided to the groom as dowry. They have called for inter-caste and caste-based love marriages for discouraging the dowry practice which is more prevalent in rich and educated families. Interestingly, men getting married without taking the dowry are often despised by their families.

The local administration must intensify its efforts to enforce the anti-dowry laws in an effective manner to help stop the unwanted social practice. It must take action against middlemen involved in making dowry deals. Those who have been involved in harassing women in the pretext of dowry must be brought to justice. In several parts of the Terai region, women are still bound to suffer from inhuman activities like burning them alive and depriving them of citizenship. More effective social campaigns should be launched in the Terai districts to create public awareness against the social evil. Political leaders, social activists and others must express their commitment that they will not receive or give dowry in their children’s marriages. This will definitely be helpful for doing away with the practice.