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Indian Dowry System – An Oppressive Custom


A Muslim girl recently committed suicide in India…


She said goodbye to this world but succeeded in initiating a campaign against the ‘Barbaric and Devilish’ Dowry System. This girl committed suicide because of the constant demands of dowry from her in-laws and husband, which forced her to take this drastic step. According to the report of the National Crime Record Bureau, one woman dies every hour due to the oppression being committed against her arising from the dowry system in India.


Since time immemorial this major crime of Dahej or the Dowry system is being committed against humanity in India and other Indian Subcontinent countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.


It is a system in which durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. Thus, along with the bride, the bridegroom’s family receives cash and gifts like jewellery, motor vehicles, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items.


The custom in most cases puts great financial burden on the brides’ families and the parents have to spend every single penny of their savings on the dowry of their daughters. Many families have to borrow money at very high interest rates and they go on striving throughout their lives to pay back the debts.


In fact the dowry system has today become the No. 1 method of criminal extortion through the infliction of blackmail, torture, violence, and murder of women in most of the countries of the Indian Subcontinent.


The dowry system is not a mere evil; it is the Mother of all Evils. It is known to have led people to commit many crimes against women. The predominant types of dowry crimes relate to cruelty (which includes emotional torture and harassment) and domestic violence including physical and sexual assaults. Sometimes the crimes committed against victims go the extent of ‘dowry deaths’ perpetrated upon them through burning of the brides or killing them in some other ways.


In other instances these deaths come through suicide committed by the women due to the emotional and physical tortures their husbands and their in-laws inflict upon them for not being satisfied with the dowry they have brought.


Then there is another crime many women are forced to commit. This crime is the Female Foeticide! Female foeticide is the abortion of a female foetus outside legal methods. Modern technology has enabled the medical practitioners to know the gender of the unborn child. As soon as the family come to know that the unborn child is a girl then the fear of paying dowry in future agitates them and as a result they get the child aborted.


Every son born into a family is greedily viewed as the ‘Golden Goose’ who will bring in the fantasized wealth through the dowry they will demand when he gets married. So families want more and more sons. There is no end to the wealth demand even after marriage, and if the woman is killed, the son can marry again. For another dowry! Why kill, why not just divorce? In the case of divorce, there is always the chance that the woman or her family will demand their dowry money/items back.”


It seems no drastic actions have been taken yet to curb this evil practice except the introduction of the Indian Dowry Prohibition law which seems to be nothing more than ‘Window Dressing’ as the crime continues to be committed unabatedly.


Dowry deaths are found predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. India reports the highest total number of dowry deaths with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, meaning there are 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women. Population wise, Pakistan reported 2,000 such deaths per year, which means it has the highest rate of dowry deaths (2.45 deaths per 100,000 women). (Ref: Dowry death – Wikipedia)


The above facts paint a very grim picture about Muslims of these areas. A large number of Muslim families have fallen into the trap of demanding dowry at the time their sons get married and they are ready to kill the brides if the dowry they bring is not up to their demands. Islam strictly prohibits taking dowry from the parents of the bride but because of greed and male related egos most of the Muslims in the subcontinent countries are into this evil act.


Don’t these Muslims realise that all the above mentioned crimes against the brides and their families are nothing but sheer Zulm (oppression)? Allah readily accepts the Du’a of a Mazlum (an oppressed person) as we understand from the Hadeeth: Nabi Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam  said, Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.” [Ṣahih Bukhari 4090.]


The Muslim Ummah of our Beloved Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam have to make an effort in whatever way they can, locally and globally, to bring an awakening with regards to this evil practice in order to slowly eradicate it from the lives of the people involved.


Finally, here is reminder to all Muslim girls facing domestic problems:


According to Islam a person who commits suicide commits a Major Sin. If you are facing any problems in life then turn to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala with all sincerity. He has the solutions to all your problems.


May Allah grant us the proper understanding of our Noble Deen, Aameen.

By M.B. Ahmed


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