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The Dowry: Biggest Evil of Equality in India

Mahi, Gems Cambridge International School Abu Dhabi, UAE

The current year on the Gregorian calendar is 2024 – but for some women in India, the year seems more like 1994.

Imagine if your worth was defined by the amount of money your family paid for your dowry. Imagine if you had to fight twice as hard as some men just to get the property that was fairly named for you, if the very laws implemented to protect you had loopholes that worked against you instead. That is the reality for many Indian women.

In fact, according to blogs.worldbank.org, citing from a figure in Women, Business and Law 2023, women in India have only 74.4 percent of the economic rights of men. That means men in India have 25.6% of the upper hand. That is more than ¼ of the rights women have just to inheritance and property that is rightly theirs. What makes those men entitled to 25% more rights than women? And that is only one of the ways women are unequal to men in India.

But, there is another harrowing problem claiming even lives of Indian women. This injustice stems from a century-old practice called ‘Dowry’ in India. Dowry was the practice of the bride’s family providing gifts upon marriage to the groom’s family, with intent to help the bride settle in and have financial security. Now? Now, Dowry is an act that puts heavy pressure on the bride’s family and promotes the idea that women are lesser to men. vikaspedia.in, a website by the Indian Ministry of Electronics, describes this practice as a “social evil in the society, that has caused unimaginable tortures and crimes towards women.” When even the Ministry condemns it, why don’t some Indians? Well, this is a tradition that has been followed for hundreds of years, even after it’s banning nearly 60 years ago, even though this tradition encourages the perception that women are lesser than men.

But when does tradition become torture? There is a phrase called ‘Dowry Death’. This is when the groom and/or his family cause harm to the bride for causes relating to her Dowry, some even leading to death. Dowry Death cases are still persisting, the latest case being the very days leading up to 2024. As a woman born in India, every Dowry, every less right women have to men, and every time a woman is denied her basic right to inheritance or property enrages me. And it should enrage you too.

The current year on the Gregorian calendar is 2024 – not just for the women unequal to men in India, but the women who are inferior to men worldwide, we need to start acting like it.

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