Dowry: a Menacing custom

CJ. Zakira Bibi

“If you do not give dowry, your daughter will not get a marriage proposal. I’ve married two daughters and I’m still under heavy debt,” these views were expressed by Khadija Bibi, who hails from Ring Road in Peshawar during a conversation with TNN.

Khadija Bibi says her husband used to work in Wapda, but 17 years ago he lost his eyes sight after that his job was terminated and he started living on a pension. She has six children, including three daughters and three sons. She raised and educated children with hard efforts after her husband’s job ended. But she faced the real challenged when she has to get married her daughters as it was not easy to make the arrangements as groom family demand refrigerator, AC, furniture, gold etc which poor families in the present age of high inflation cannot afford.

She said that now the eldest son has taken over the responsibility of the house and somehow, she has married two of her daughters. She also borrowed for a daughter’s wedding that she has not been paid yet. “I have married a daughter to my nephew, but even if a girl is married in relative or outside the family, they will ask for heavy dowry.”

Khadija is now worried that one of her daughters is still unmarried and for her, she is now preparing dowry because if the dowry is not prepared on time, people will not send marriage proposal. “The government should take action on dowry because there is no benefit in it because if a person has sons, he will have daughters as well,” lamented Khadija. “parents are under social pressure that they cannot refuse dowry.”

On the contrary, they send their girls with dowry, so that their daughters do not have any problems and they will live happily in their house. She called on the government to make a law to ban the scourge of dowry. And anyone who violates the law is punished so that this menace can be removed from our society.

It is important to mention here that a bill was also introduced in the KP Assembly in April 2017 regarding the ban on dowry and marriage celebrations. It has been submitted to the special committee but has not yet been approved.

According to the text of the bill, dowry will be fully forbidden dowry and women will be given her full inheritance. Similarly, no one can give his daughter more than ten thousand rupees worth gift at her marriage. Similarly, the full cost of the marriage, including the wedding will not be more than 75 thousand. On the occasion of the marriage, the bridegroom will offer only one meal at the wedding, and the girl will offer only tea or drinks at Bara’at.

The bill was presented by Rashida Rifat, a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party. According to the bill, no marriage ceremony will continue until ten o’clock. Anyone who violates these rules will be fined up to two hundred thousand thousands and a three months imprisonment or both. The bridegroom will be sentenced for two years in prison and will be fined 300,000 if he demands dowry.

Sana Ejaz, a social worker raising awareness against dowry, told TNN that she had come against dowry since college and university days. In addition to making an awareness film, she has also run awareness campaigns. “But people cannot be aware unless there is an effective law to ban dowry,” said Ejaz. She added the role and responsibility have to be played on the state because unless the state legislates against and campaign on the media, the practice of dowry will not end. Sana Ejaz said that dowry is such a menace in our society which causes many girls to grow old at home because without dowry they are not getting proper marriage proposals.

She said that many people are working to raise awareness about dowry, but only people cannot eliminate this problem. In this regard, laws need to be effectively implemented and new rules should be created. The government should ban dowry and Ghag custom because the government has the powers and authority.

She also said that during the time when our country is surrounded by economic problems, the elimination of dowry and other such rituals can bring prosperity for the poor people. Earlier this year, there was a campaign on social media called ‘Jahez Khori Band Karo’, in which people from the public as well as people from Showbiz took part and declared dowry as an outdated ritual.