Don’t Put a Price on Brides 

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THERE are several consequences of the dowry system prevailing in our society. Firstly, the dowry system prevents women from getting married when they want to and this delays their chances of getting married. When poor parents somehow manage to arrange some dowry from whatever they can afford, the thirst of greed never ends and divorce is not the option for the poor. For a girl, it turns the festivity and charm of married life into hell. Behind feel good pictures of brides dolled up, there are years and years of a parent’s earning that they could have easily invested in something meaningful but they didn’t have the choice to do that.

If we talk about Kashmir, dowry includes cash, furniture, copper utensils, crockery, clothes, electronic items, gold and many more things. A girl is supposed to carry everything to her new home. From needle to iron to beddings, every small and big thing for her use. As if her in-laws don’t have such things. This age old culture of dowry once used to be a voluntary action of giving gifts to in-laws and now it has turned into a compulsory thing. To be honest, as a Gen Z kid I not only used to believe but also used to make others believe that there is nothing like dowry demand, harassment, abuse and other evils related to girls now. It is only until very recently that the same thing happened to a girl very close to me. That incident not only shook me but also made me see our society for what it is.

Nothing has really changed over the years other than the tactics used to harass girls on the pretext of dowry. First it used to be open demand for the dowry but now as times have changed, In-laws choose to say no to the dowry before the wedding for societal impression but deep down still have high expectations for dowry. When their expectations arent met, they use different tactics to torture a girl. Mental torture, verbal abuse, isolation, humiliation, work load, nasty comments are a few psychological abuses inflicted on a daughter-in-law that usually go unnoticed unlike physical torture.

This menace is not confined to only one part of the region. Every other day we get to hear such heart wrenching news from different parts of the valley. In 2018, a Sikh girl was tortured to such an extent over dowry that she hanged herself to death in the Chanapora area of Srinagar. Recently, a Muslim girl from Bandipora was murdered over dowry. So, any particular religion, location, gender or relation has no role to play here. There are thousands of such examples where girls either choose to kill themselves or were killed by in-laws. Evil Culture of violence over dowry within four walls is alarming and needs to be dealt with strictly. Otherwise, the day isn’t too far when such things will become a new normal in Kashmir.

Nowsheen mushtaq

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