Ground Report | New Delhi: Dowry payments still rampant in India; A World Bank study has found that the dowry system in India’s villages has largely remained stable over the past few decades. But this practice continues unabated. Researchers studied 40,000 marriages that took place in rural India from 1960 to 2008.
They have found that dowry was given in 95% of marriages, while it has been outlawed in India since 1961. Sometimes women are marginalized due to dowry, they are subjected to domestic violence and sometimes even death.
Dowry payments still rampant in India
Taking and giving dowry is a centuries-old practice in South Asia, in which the bride’s relatives give money, clothes, jewelry, etc. to the groom’s family members.
He has calculated the ‘total dowry’. For this, he has worked out the difference between the number of gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom or his family and the amount given from the groom’s family to the bride’s family.
They found that the total dowry average was ‘remarkably stable’ before 1975 and after 2000 due to inflation. Researchers have found that the groom’s family spent an average of Rs 5,000 on gifts for the bride’s family.
Surprisingly, the number of gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom’s family was seven times that of Rs 32,000. This means that on average the actual dowry was close to Rs 27,000. Dowry accounts for a substantial portion of the family’s savings and income: in 2007 the total dowry in rural India was 14% of the annual household income.
According to the calculated amount accepted by the families, a groom’s family spends an average of $67 (INR 5,000) on gifts to the bride’s family. However, the bride’s family spends around $429 (INR 32,000) for gifts and other monetary payments to the groom’s family, thus making the total dowry around $361 (INR 27,000).
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Increased dowry in Kerala
It is also observed that in general the amount of dowry is 14 percent of the annual household income and it also generates a substantial amount from the savings of the family.
“As a share of income, dowry has decreased over time as the average rural income in India has increased,” said Dr. Anukreethy, an economist at the World Bank Research Group. “But this is just an average claim – to calculate how large a dowry is relative to household income for each household, we would need data on household income or expenditure, but unfortunately we do not have such data available, ” she said.
She says, “But this is only an average claim whereas how big the dowry is can only be calculated from the individual income of each family. We would need data on household income or expenditure, but unfortunately, we have such No data available.”
The study found that the southern state of Kerala has shown an ‘increased dowry’ since the 1970s and has also had the highest average dowry in recent years.
In the wake of suspected dowry deaths, Kerala authorities have said in the past weeks that it will revise its school curriculum to include more gender-sensitive elements and remove material that offends women. They are also demanding the setting up of special courts to handle crimes against women and starting a 24/7 helpline for women to report dowry harassment.
Other states like Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat also registered an increase in dowry. On the other hand, the average dowry has decreased in the states of Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.