In the news I heard yet another tragic story relating to dowry – a woman had been abused by her in-laws because she hadn’t brought ‘adequate’ dowry when she married into their home. This case was in India, where such cases are rife. But are they as commonplace here in the UK?
For those of you who are wondering what on earth I’m on about – in Indian culture; when a daughter is married off, her in-laws are given countless gifts which can vary from money, clothes and gold jewellery to furniture, cars and even properties! This is known as dowry.
Some refer to it as ‘selling your daughter’.
Other cultures across the world have different forms of dowry too and it seems the obvious reasoning behind it is to appease the new family (your child’s in-laws) in the hope that they will treat your child well. It’s an ancient tradition that has been practised across Asia and North Africa. But is there a place for it in the modern world?
I must admit it’s a custom that makes me feel very uncomfortable. It’s led to lifetimes of domestic abuse for women at the hands of their in-laws who feel their son has more value than what his wife has brought with her. I know of a case close to home where the bride was sent home soon after the marriage because the dowry was considered insufficient. Eventually she was accepted back but even after she married her own children her husband continues to be disappointed with the dowry she brought decades ago.
In extreme cases women have been physically and mentally abused, murdered or outcast by the in-laws.
That sickens me.
Such families demonstrate arrogance and ignorance beyond belief. And the irony is a lot of the time the boy is damn lucky to end up with the wife that he has. But oh no, he’s a boy so he’s born with the right to be showered with luxury at his wedding that he hasn’t earned or worked for. And that’s another thing – the bride’s family pay for the wedding and have a double whammy with the dowry…who the hell sets these customs? It’s no wonder girls are unwanted children in India.
Surely you should be looking at the values instilled in the girl who will then be the mother of your children or grandchildren. Her qualities are invaluable and will base the future of your family. Tangible things will come and go but can you put a price on respect, love and etiquette?
Love marriages are becoming the norm in the British Indian community so there isn’t the added pressure of whether or not a family will accept a girl based on the dowry because the couple are in love so the families have to succumb to their wish. However, there is still a culture of appeasing the boy’s family for the girl to be treated well by her in-laws in future.
Although second, third and even fourth generation British Indians here are educated, accustomed to the British way of life and thousands of miles away from India where dowry is commonplace (although its illegal!); the practice remains.
My aunt was married here and my family gave so much in the dowry that her in-laws literally couldn’t fit it in their home. I can’t help but wonder if that was to appease the family so that my aunt would be treated well or if it was a sign of arrogance on my family’s part…
Suffice to say, I won’t be continuing any such nonsense if and when I get married. If a man and his family refuse a girl based on dowry, it’s God’s blatant sign for you to get out while you can! Save yourself a lifetime of misery with a backward, arrogant and ignorant family!
If a man really loves you, he’ll marry you regardless of how lavish or simple your wedding day, and even if you enter a married life with literally just the clothes on your back.
I hope the next generation of British Indians will put an end to the vile custom of dowry and prevent the headache, heart ache and debt of so many families!