Chapter: One

1.0 Introduction

Of all the problems faced by the women in our society, Dowry becomes first and firmest as ā social challenge. Because though the other problems like Rape, Child marriage, Murder and Kidnapping are happening in the society, they will not affect as strong as the Dowry system has its influence.

Though in the beginning the word Dowry was not used in the marriages, gifts were exchanged as a symbol of love, prestige. The Indian term for Dowry is Stridhan which means that the bride herself gets jewelry and cloths at the time of her marriage. People used to give and take dowry due to social custom, traditions, and pressures of the caste system. Dowry system did not start as an impediment to a daughter’s marriage in ancient time. But in the medieval time the bride’s family was forced to give dowry because of the bridegroom’s family expectation and compulsion. Today almost throughout the length and breadth of the country the dowry negotiations have become direct and open.

1.1.   Research Objective

The specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To study the existing system of dowry.

To know the causes of dowry.

  1. To assess the consequence of dowry.
  2. To explore the preventive measures of dowry.

1.2.   Research Methodology

The methodology of the whole work is based on secondary data

For preparing this research paper, basically I have used books, Journals, some, case reference and, websites, newspaper and published reports and websites and internet. It would be better, if I could be visit relevant practical field and take interview of concerned person. I wanted to do that, but it was not possible for me with in the stipulated time. Though, this research work has been conducted by analyzing documents.

1.3. Research limitation

  1. Lack of sufficient research knowledge to complete the research works properly.
  2. There is a limitation of availability of source of data and document. Most of the authorities of this study were not liberated. As a result, they did not fell the necessity and importance of this study. For this it was faced problem to collect accurate data.

iii.  The study in fact was a part of our academic curriculum. For this tip, frame was limited. Consequently; it was felt difficult to make this study more accurate and fruitful.

  1. The study was conducted on the basis of secondary data of the Dowry system in Bangladesh. So there is a lacking to presenting the originality of incident.
  2. The last one and it is major limitation is timing limitation; the short period of time could give a limitation for research in Bangladesh on Dowry.

Chapter: Two

2.1. Meaning and scope of dowry:

Dowry in general sense is meant to signify the monetary value of anything which is transacted at the time or afterwards of marriage between the bridegroom and bride’s family as a demand. But in the strict sense the payment given by the groom to the bride is not regarded as the dowry; it is called dower. The payment given by the bride to the groom as his demand is called dowry.

In our Bangladesh context the definition is clearly given in Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 ; section 4 of which states as follows:

Sec. 4: definition:

In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-

(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or

(b) by the parents of either party to a marriage or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person;  at the time of marriage or at any time before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or Mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

Explanation I.- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that any presents made at the time of a marriage by any person other than a party to the marriage to either party to the marriage in the form of any articles the value of which does not exceed five hundred taka, shall not be deemed to be dowry within the meaning of this section, unless they are made as consideration for the marriage of the said party.

Explanation II.- The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as the section 30 of the Penal Code.

There  is the definition of dowry in 2(j) of Nari O Shishu Nitjatan Domon Ain, 2000 , that extended the scope of dowry, in the following word,

“Dowry’ means money, goods or any property which has been given or agreed to give to the bride-groom or his father or mother or any person on his behalf, directly or indirectly, at the time of marriage or before marriage at any time after marriage in condition with the smooth continuation of marital life or as a consideration given by the side of the bride and the money, goods or property which has been demanded from the bride or her father or mother or any person on her behalf, by the bride-groom or his father or mother or ay other person on his behalf as the above mentioned condition or consideration”.  The difference between the two above definition is that in dowry prohibition Act upto 500 taka is excepted but Act 2000 has no such exemption.

2.2. Dower and dowry bear same meaning in some parts of the world in some usage:

We mean dower as the money payable by husband to his wife and dowry as the money payable by wife to her husband. But in most of the cases, usage and places the two terms are not differentiated. In those usage dowry is regarded as the any transaction undergone between the two families in marriage, monetary value given by any party to the other.

In Oxford Dictionary:

In oxford dictionary the definition of dower is not found. It only defines the term dowry. It defines dowry as property or money brought by a bride to her husband .

In Africa:

In Africa it means the money payable by the husband to his wife.

In America:

In America and European countries also, the term demonstrates the same meaning as Africa .

In Russia:

In Russia money given by the either party is called dowry . At the time of marriage bride may give dowry and at the time of dissolution the husband has to pay his dowry to the wife. This dowry money compensated by the bridegroom is of three kinds;

  1. Neduniyah (dowry of wife given earlier by her)
  2. Ketubah (divorce settlement payment)
  3. Tosefet ketubah (any other amount agreed before between the parties).

In South East Asia:

In South East Asian Societies like Thailand, China and Cambodia dowry is meant which is paid by the husband to his wife .

In Indian sub-continent:

In Indian sub-continent dower and dowry is differentiated. Dower means the Arabic term Mahr give mandatorily by the husband to his wife in marriage contract where dowry is totally prohibited and non-payment of dower is punishable under Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980.

2.3.  Dowry in different parts of the world

2.3.1. Wedding Traditions and dowry in the Baltic region

Marriage traditions have changed a great deal over the centuries in most of the Baltic countries. For example, in the 16th century the minimum age for marriage through much of the Baltic region was 14 for boys and 13 for girls. Today the legal age for marriage without parental consent ranges between 18 and 21, depending on the country. Today young couples from large cities often opt for an American or British-style of wedding, but in the rural country areas the more traditional ceremonies are still observed.

Young men, for example, often ask a friend or a relative to discretely discover if a young woman is likely to say “Yes” to a proposal before he actually asks the question. If word comes back that the young lady is inclined to say yes, then the young man will go to the girl’s father and ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. If the father agrees and the young woman actually does say “Yes” when the proposal is made, then the wedding may proceed.

A young couple who get married with the blessing of the girl’s father can expect no dowry, no inheritance and no help of any kind from the bride’s parents .

2.3.2. Scandinavian Wedding Traditions

As when bringing a legal suit or conducting a sale, those who sought a marriage often took with them men of prestige, power, and wealth to act for them as a broker or advocate when making the proposal of marriage .

Such sponsors not only acted as witnesses to the handsal or formal agreement of betrothal sealed by a hand-clasp, but the promise of their support and political influence formed a part of the inducement for the bride’s kinfolk to accept the proposal. Once it was agreed that an alliance between the two families would be satisfactory, the next step was to negotiate the bruðkaup or bride-price . The bride-price consisted of three payments: from the groom would come the mundr and morgengifu, while the bride’s family provided the heiman fylgia.

2.3.3. Dowry in American society

There is no tradition of dowry in American society. But gifts to both bride and bridegroom are given by the friends and families. However, the hope chest is going to become the replace to the dowry in the American society. Usually, the parents of the bride want to give some money, or ornaments or any other property to their beloved daughter at her marriage. According to Herbert A Otto, Professor Of University Of Utah, USA, hope chest is becoming the part of American custom .

2.3.4. Dowry in Africa

The dowry is a complex process of negotiation and very formal between the two families to reach a mutual agreement on the price that the groom has to pay in order to marry the bride. This can be seen as a buying and selling, but this custom has nothing to do in principle with a commercial transaction. Many people do not realize that the purpose of the dowry is not personal enrichment but that the money received by the family of the bride is used by the bride to his home base. The dowry is also a gesture of appreciation from the groom’s family to the bride’s family for having raised and cared for it.

Today, for some families the dowry is used to pay debt. Worse still, some men view women as commodities they have paid. This creates a climate of tension between the couple which is not conducive to trust and love.

There is a documented case in South Africa of an unhappy woman who can not obtain a divorce from her husband because her family can not pay the dowry. There is even a correlation between high incidence of HIV and dowry. The dowry is seen as a monetary transaction and the woman as an object purchased. The husband may then take mistresses and increases the chance of infection, and can in turn transmit to the woman.

However, these are aberrations and not derived from the essence of the dowry. It is a custom which is still popular because it promotes harmony between the married couple and their families, while creating both a sense of dignity and mutual assistance which may be useful to marriage and a harmonious union help .

In Sudan and in other areas along the Nile a man must pay his wife’s family in sheep or cattle for the loss of their daughter’s labor in support of the family. A wife may cost a man as many as 30 to 40 head of cattle. Often it is difficult to pay the family yet still have enough cattle left to support his new wife .

2.3.5. Dowry in Russia

The Russian marriage can be marked by the evil of divorce where one fourth of the marriage decline to dissolution . The wives in Russian society are suppressed by the husbands in most of the families. Dowry given by the bride payable to the groom is called neduniyah. The groom has to repay the dowry to the bride in the event of divorce between them. This dissolution money compensated by the bridegroom is of three kinds ;

  1. Neduniyah (dowry of wife given earlier by her)
  2. Ketubah (divorce settlement payment)
  3. Tosefet ketubah (any other amount agreed before between the parties).

2.3.6. Chinese Wedding Dowry

The bride’s family then prepares dowry and give a list of the dowries to the groom’s family.  Dowry is mostly composed of daily necessities for the new home, such as bedding, linen and dining set, etc.  In the old Chinese culture, girls start learning needle work at young age, and prepare plenty of shoes, socks, table cloth etc, as part of her dowry. This is also an opportunity for the bride’s family to display their love for their daughter as well as their wealth.

In China, Cambodia and Thai region the groom has to pay the dowry to the bride’s family which is called as sinsot .It is sometimes onerous for the bridegroom and non-payment may create unhappiness in the family.

2.3.7. Dowry in irsh society

Dowry (generally called ‘fortune’ in Ireland; spré in Irish) is money or property brought by a bride to her husband at marriage. It was an important matter in nineteenth-century Ireland. There were new trends in marriage rates after the Famine. In 1845, the average male age at marriage was 25, the average female age 21. However, by 1914 the typical male married at 33, and the female at 28. In 1851 only 12% of women between the ages 25 and 54 did not marry but in 1911 this had increased to 26%. Parents now left their farms to one son, and the others had the choice of marrying a female who inherited a farm (and this meant a financial settlement), moving to the city or town, taking up a profession, emigrating, or joining a religious order. Heirs tended to postpone marriage until parents died and were generally unwilling to make dowryless marriages that would worsen their financial position or lower their status. It became increasingly difficult to marry outside one’s own social class. Before the Famine it was quite usual for well-off farmers to bring in matchmakers to ensure that their children married well; but after the Famine most families did this. The dowry became a chief consideration when choosing a partner and farmers’ children preferred not to marry rather than marry beneath them.Though some brides married without dowries, payment could be substantial for others .

2.3.8. Dowry in Indian Sub-Continent Pakistan:

A The practice of dowry is in vogue among the Muslims in the entire subcontinent — no less in the so-called ‘Islamic Republic’ of Pakistan. The Dowry and Bridal Gifts (Restriction) Act enacted by the federal legislature in Pakistan in 1976 is more stringent than the Indian law but has hardly been successful in weeding out this social evil. India:

India has Dowry Prohibition (DP) Act of 1961. It includes the provisions as:

  1. Mandatory requirement for couples to notify the list of gifts exchanged during their wedding ceremony.
  2. The list of gifts, in the form of a sworn affidavit, has to be notarized, signed by a protection officer or a dowry prohibition officer and kept by both the parties.
  3. Failing to keep a list of gifts can invite heavy penalty including a three-year term in jail for not only the bride and the groom but also their parents.
  4. The penalty for dowry givers is reduced from five years of imprisonment to one year.
  5. The Domestic Violence Act will be linked with the DP Act for quick relief.
  6. The definition of dowry is widened by changing the word “in connection with marriage” to “given before the marriage, at the time of marriage and at any time after the marriage.”
  7. In case of a woman’s death, all property obtained as dowry would need to be reverted back to the parents of the woman or her children.

2.4 Bangladesh

The original custom in Bangladesh was the bride price, called pawn, where the groom’s family makes a payment to the bride’s parents. This has gradually been replaced by the dowry, called joutuk. This transition in customs began in the 1960s. By the early 21st century, the brideprice has been supplanted by the dowry. Joutuk, sometimes spelled Joutukh, like elsewhere in South Asia, is a serious and growing problem in Bangladesh. Between 0.6 to 2.8 brides per year per 100,000 women are reported to die because of dowry-related violence.

Bangladesh has seen a rise in the expected size of dowries in recent decades, as its middle class has grown, and there has been an accompanying rise in the rate of “dowry deaths”. In Bangladesh, dowry killings are more frequently done by stabbing or poison rather than burning. Dowry extortion is also a problem in Bangladesh. From January to October 2009, more than 3,413 complaints were made to the police in Bangladesh concerning beatings and other abuses related to dowries. One of the methods used by families who are unhappy with dowry includes acid throwing, in which concentrated acid is thrown on the bride’s face to cause disfiguration and social isolation. From 1995-1998, 15 women reported dowry disputes as the motivation behind acid attacks, though that number may be low due to under reporting. Bangladesh is combating the problem with legislation largely copied from that of India. Laws prohibiting dowry in Bangladesh include Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980; Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Ordinance, 1982; and Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Ordinance, 1986.

2.5 Nepal

The practice of dowry is common in Nepal, and dowry-related violence is increasingly becoming a problem. As a result, the dowry system has been banned in Nepal. Despite the laws, the violent incidents continue, under a general perception of impunity. People of the Madhesi society still freely welcome dowry as a right to the groom’s side. Even highly-educated people living in the urban areas of Nepal accept dowry without any second thoughts. Parents have thus started dreading the birth of daughters in the family, going as far as determining the sex of fetuses in order to abort daughters. Many deaths have also been caused by not giving dowry to the groom’s side.

The dowry trend may soon be on the decline in Nepalese society, as contemporary parents are more likely to treat sons and daughters as equals, to invest in their daughters’ educations as much as they do for their sons, and to divide assets equally.

Chapter: Three

3.1 Dowry in Historical Aspects    

The system of dowry prevalent in India is not of a recent origin.  This social evil has plagued the society since ancient times.   Bride price and dowry have been the member of the same family, often going hand in hand wherever giving and taking are involved in a marriage transaction.

3.1.1 Dowry in Ancient Time

“Dowry system is connected with the conception of marriage as dana or gifts.  A religions gift in kind is usually accompanied by a gift in cash or gold. Dowry system did not start as an impediment to a daughter’s marriage in ancient time.”   Even the ancient scriptures approved of wealth given to a bride at the time of her wedding. “It was her parents’ gift of love to ensure that she was provided for financially when she left her parental home.”

Earliest references to dowry show that “it was mainly a preoccupation of kings and of the very rich who could indulge in luxurious display.  Fairy kingdoms and wealth which could only be measured in terms of golden chariots and palaces full of Jewels went with a beloved daughter to her new home.”

The dowry was a part of the ritual of kanyadan which was very different from modern dowry.  It seems that the dowry system, as it is practised today, was unknown in early periods.  “It was only in the aristocratic and royal families that gifts were given to the bridegroom at the time of marriage.”

3.1.2 Dowry in Medieval Time

In the ancient time the dowry was not forced to give.  But it was given by the bride’s family to show their love and concern.  But in the medieval time, the bride’s family was forced to give dowry because of the bridegroom’s family expectation and completion.  M.N.Srinivas points out that “The richer and higher strata of people in the second quarte of the twentieth century paid huge sums by way of dowry to obtain desirable grooms.

“In medieval times the dowry system comes into vogue because of pre – puberty marriages.  To secure a desirable match, the father of the girl often offered attractive incentives to the prospective son – in – law to persuade him to accept his daughter within pre – puberty period.  Then the religious concept of ‘Kanyadana’ also helped the rise of this custom.  Later ‘Kanyadana’ became associated with ‘Vardakshina’, i.e. the cash or gift in kind by parents or guardian of the bride to bridegroom.  So when a bride is given over to the bridegroom, he has to be given something in cash or kind which contributes Vardakshina.  Since, the daughter was denied the right of inheritance, the phenomenon also led to rigidity of custom of dowry among propertied class.”

3.1.3. Dowry in Present Time

Today marriage has become an occasion to demand and a chance to accumulate.  Boys are shamelessly and openly sold in the marriage market.  “The rate of dowry  varies from caste to caste and mostly depends upon the groom’s accomplishments, family status and other attainments such as education, employment, wealth, or other material acquisitions.”

In this ugly market of marriage, a cut throat completion goes on and dump girls are being freely traded as chattels or cattles.  Today the greedy men marry the refrigerators, video sets, scooter, and car etc., the bride being the dowry.  Almost thought the length and breadth of the country the dowry negotiations have become direct and open.

Today, every bit of consumer goods can be turned into dowry whether it is T. V. set, radios, watches, household furniture and even a car. The front pages of some of our most prestigious dailies carry advertisements for sarees, shawls, wrist watches, T.V. Video set and so on as a part of girls dowry.  If bridegroom’s family fancies them, a son’s marriage is the time to acquire the demand open or clandestine ranges from a two-wheeler to anything under the sky.

“In number of cases, the bridegroom and his family shamelessly present list of things which they want at times haggle with bride’s parents to get maximum amount of money and costly gifts as dowry.   Today marriage has become a stepping stone to acquire more wealth and social status. There is no other social institution which has been commercialized as marriage.

Chapter: Four

4.1 Dowry System in Various Religion

4.1.1 Dowry in Hinduism

Dowry system was generally unknown in early Hindu society.  In rich and royal families some gifts were given to the bridegroom at the time of marriage.  “Atharvaveda once incidentally refers to royal recognized eight forms of marriage, GL Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya which were approved forms and Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa and Pistachio which were unapproved forms.”

It is only in the Brahma form of marriage which was peculiar to upper-class (The people with property) that marriage meant the gift of daughter with some ornaments and articles the father of the bride could accord to a most suited groom learned in Veda and of good conduct, which he voluntarily invited and respectfully received.

However, these presents can hardly be called dowries, for they were voluntarily made after marriage out of pure affection and presented no impediment in the settlement of daughter’s marriage.

In Vedic period, dowries were given by parents, to attract suitable bridegroom for their daughters.  But During Epic age, dowry was recognized as women’s property, (stridhan).  It included all types of gifts from parents, brothers and relations.  The Hindu Law also recognized the right of women over this property.  But now it has underdone a great change.  It is considered as the bridegroom’s price by which a father buys a husband for her daughter.  Educational development has enhanced this system.”  Dowry has always been, and conceptually and essentially that property which is obtained under duress, coercion, or pressure.  It is that property which is extorted from the father or guardian of the bride by the bridegroom or his parents or other relations.  Among Hindus it is that “property which is extracted by the bridegroom from his bride or more particularly from her parents or guardian.  Thus dowry is not present made to the bride and bridegroom.  The distinction between the two is that dowry is essentially a property which is extracted or extracted from the bride of her parents, while presents are those properties which are voluntarily and willingly given.”

4.1.2. Dowry in Islam

In Muslim society, the marital union is denoted by the Arabic word Nikah (marriage).  According to Muslim ideals Nikah in the contract of husband and wife which legalize their sexual intercourse and imposes certain duties and right between themselves it is socially and legally recognized therefore it is sacred.

Dowry plays a very important role in the marriage relations of Muslim Community.  Among all Muslims it is considered to be the fundamental right of a Muslims woman to get dowry form her husband.  It may be in the form of money, property which is given to the wife as a mark of respect.  Apart from this, marriage among Muslims is a social contract.  Therefore payment of dowry  to the women in indispensable.  But dowry is not a bride price.”

In order to safeguard the economic position of women after the marriage, Islam has made it legally obligatory on the husband to pay her a reasonable amount as dower.  The amount to be fixed as dower depends on the agreement between the two parties, but, in any case, the object is to strengthen the financial position of the wife, so that she is not prevented, for lack of money, from defending her rights.  The Qur’an says:

  • And given women their dowries as a free gift, but if they themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result (iv.4).
  • And if you wish to have (one) wife in the place of another and you have given one of them a heap of gold (as dowry) take not anything from her; would you like it by slandering (her) and(doing her) manifest wrong?

“It happens is some Muslim marriages that for the purpose of glorification of the husband, a large amount of dower in announced in public, but in private in the real amount and that alone can be enforced.  The husband has power, at any time during the subsistence of marriage, to increase the amount of Mahr.

4.1.3. Dowry in Christianity

The dowry system assumes frightening proportions among the Christians who have for centuries absorbed many of the traditions of the Hindu community, from which they originally came and who have inherited the Latin tradition of heavy dowry giving. Even though social intermingling among religious communities here in almost non-existent,” the Hindu dowry tradition is firmly entrenched among the Roman Catholics. The bride among these is not only expected to bring with her ‘streedhan’ of jewellery, clothes and cash, but also furniture, car, television and other luxuries.

The death of the dowry system cannot safely be predicted in a community it has common acceptance.  Those who have already received a fortune as dowry will now insist that they get on equal share of their father’s property; this will means a lot of bad blood and litigation.  The Code of Hammurabi mentions bride price in various laws, as an established custom. It is not the paying of the bride price that is prescribed, but the regulation of various aspects:

  • A man who paid the bride price but looked for another bride would not get a refund, but he would if the father of the bride refused the match.
  • If a wife died without sons, her father was entitled to the return of her dowry, minus the value of the bride price.
  • The Hebrew Bible and Talmud mention the practice of paying a bride price to the father of a minor girl.

The practice of the bride price is found in the Bible, in the Old Testament. Exodus 22:16-17 says: If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 similarly states:

If a man finds a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Chapter: Five

5.1 Dowry System in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a development country. In this country there are many kinds of unpleasant customs. Dowry is the most common unpleasant custom of those. It creates many problems. It is against the success of our country. It is a much unexpected situation for the bride’s family members. They are to collect a huge amount of money for their daughters or sisters marriage. Sometime they are to take loan, sell their lands, furniture, ornaments and even their own house to collect the money. They are to lose many things and face many problems for this dowry system. There are numerous evidences that the practice of dowry can have consequences that can be harmful and sometimes lethal for women.

Dowry system is one of the worst evil cultures in this society. A dowry is a gift of money or valuables given by the bride’s family to the groom and the newly formed household at the time of their marriage.

Often the parents of the daughter are willing to provide large sum of money and expensive goods to make the future of their daughter a pleasant and secure one. In solvent families the family of the groom expects that the parents of the bride will willingly a gift the new couple with expensive goods which they can show off as a symbol of prestige and wealth. In all cases the lives of the young brides are at stake. They have to live in a hostile environment where they become the victims of physical, social, mental and psychological torture.

In Bangladesh: Bangladesh suffers from some evil culture and superstitions. Dowry system is one of the worst evil cultures in this society. It has been an ancient and widespread practice. This bad culture is found and practiced more or less in communities of the country. In some cases, parents borrow money on exorbitant rate of interest to marry their daughters and sisters and spend rest of their life in great misery. Every year many young women commit suicide or face physical torture after marriage because their parents cannot afford to give dowry. Day by day, marriage has become a kind of business and exploitation of the parents of a girl.

Chapter: Six

6.1 Reasons for Dowry

6.1.1 Social Custom and Tradition

Custom in anthropology and sociology is a way of thinking or acting that is characteristic of a group of people. Customs influence the way people dress, eat, and in general behave; they may take on the force of moral or statute laws.   The social custom and tradition is one of the reasons for Dowry.  There is a feeling that practicing customs generates and strengthens solidarity and cohesiveness among people.  “Many people give and take dowry only because their parents and ancestors had been practicing it.”

6.1.2 Security

“Dowry is the bride’s parents gifts of love to ensure that she is provided for financially when she lefts her parental home.”  In a materialistic society, there are constant pressures on individuals and families for having more and more money not only to provide more comfort to themselves and family members, but also to have some future security.

6.1.3 Gift

Gift is a voluntary transfer of property from one person to another During the time of marriage the friends and the family members will provide some valuable things as a remembrance of them.  “The prevalence of dowry system is mentioned by Jayasi, Tulsidas and Surdas and some foreign travelers make mention of it also.  In rich and royal families gifts used to be given to sons-in-law at the time of marriage.  Sita, Drayupadi Subhadra and Ultra brought rich presents including horses, elephants, cow, jeweler, chariots, servants, maids when they proceeded to their husband’s home after marriage.”

6.1.4 Aspiration to Marry in High and Rich Family

One of the causes of dowry is the desire and aspiration of every parent to marry his daughter in a high and rich family to keep up or to add to his prestige.  “The high marriage – market value of the boys belonging to rich and high social status families has swelled the amount of dowry.”

6.1.5 Pressures of the Caste System

Caste is largely static, exclusive social class membership I which is determined by birth and involves particular customary restrictions and privileged. Among Hindus, marriage, in the same caste and sub caste has been prescribed by the social and religious practices with the result that choice of selecting a mate is always restricted.  “This results in the paucity of young boys who have high salaried jobs or promising career in the profession.  They become ‘scare commodities’ and their parents demand high amount of money from the girl’s parents to accept her as their daughter – in – laws as if girls are chattel for which the bargain has to be made.”

6.1.6 Rising of Prices

The pressure for larger dowries is due to “ the general rise in prices and the current obsession with gold and silver ,the prices of which are rising almost every day”   When the groom’s family sees the situation of the economy they are tempted to demand dowry from the Bride’s family in order to face economic crises

6.1.7 Income to Groom’s Family

The parents will give the best education to their sons in order to get good Bride. But while getting marriage settlement   they will ask dowry, because “parents who spend a sizable part of their earning in educating their sons regard them as investments to yield returns; they expect to realize the first and fattest dividend at their son’s marriage”

6.1.8. Hypergamous Marriage System

Besides endogamy, we have also the analoma {hypergamous} system of marriage according to which a girl belonging to a lower caste can be married in a higher caste. When boys belonging to the higher castes marry girls of the lower castes, they demand high dowry. A person often pays a huge amount of dowry to get a son-in-law from a higher level in the hierarchy.

According to Kapadia “The practice of hypergamous castes, brought in its train problems of no mean significance. The main concern of the man is found in many of these hypergamous castes, to have been the exploitation of women and her people economically. Every parent desired his daughter to be married into the highest social group to keep up or to add to his prestige, and this made him acquiesce in these abuses . When a number of offers were made to a single person he naturally insisted on   his terms and bride groom price would go on swelling.”

6.1.9. Vicious Circle

In the society it is customary that the parents will arrange marriage to their daughter first and then to their sons. But in some family first the marriage of girls will not take place .Because of the dowry, they will wait for the marriage of their sons. “ Dowries brought by sons help the parents to utilize a part of them in their daughter’s marriage.”

“An individual who may be against the dowry system is compelled to accept fifty to sixty thousand rupees in cash in dowry only because he has to spend an equal amount in his sister’s or daughter’s marriage. The vicious circle starts and the amount of dowry go on increasing till it assumes a scandalous.”

6.1.10. False Notion of Social Status

A few people give more dowries just to exhibit their high social and economic status. “Janis and Rajputs for example spend lakhs of rupees in the marriage of their daughters just to show their higher status or keep their prestige in the society even if they have to borrow money.”

6.1.11. Caste System

Dowry system is related to the caste system, as it is paid in order to marry a girl to a boy of the same caste of. It is manly practiced among the higher caste of the girls family .Because when the girl is married to another caste’s boy means it is considered as prestige problems. In order to prevent from that the bride’s family will offer dowry as much as they can so that the bride groom of the same caste will marry the bride.

6.1.12. Desire of the Girls Parent

It is the desire of the girl’s parent that “she should live happily with her husband and in-laws and so they think of rich family even if they have to give heavy dowry. The aim of the bride’s family is that though they are poor their daughter should not lead the same life. So they are tempted to give heavy dowry to their daughter, so that she is married by the rich person.

6.1.13. Greediness of the Parents of the Boy

Greedy means that wanting more money, power, food etc, than one really needs. In some families when they arrange marriage for their son they will demand dowry to make easy money, because if the bride’s family is unable to give the dowry which is demanded by the bridegroom’s family, they will leave the bride and try to get another girl.

6.1.14. Other Reasons

1 Dowry is given on parental feelings concern or sense of obligation, so as not to send daughter with empty handed.

2 Women’s craze for the gold–ornaments is also one of the causes of dowry transactions, a fast and easy way to get these ornaments through dowry.

3 The black money and unaccounted earnings of the rich class.

4 Dowry is a means of giving the daughter her share in the father’s property.

    Poverty

Poverty is the main causes behind dowry because most of the people in Bangladeshi are poor.  They often take dowry to reduce their Poverty.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely-populated nations in the world, some 35 million people struggle to survive at the lowest limit of poverty. In most cases, money Paid on dowries is the main cause for people’s misery. Although this is not legally accepted, payments to future relatives are still a common practice in the country, especially in rural regions. The family of the future husband receives sums of money roughly equivalent to 200 times the average daily wage.

This burden is simply too great for most families, which cannot afford to pay that much. Parents of girls are coming to curse their children because they were not born males. The situation is very complex authorities say, because the intricate network of relatives and alliances that exist in most villages in Bangladesh is heavily relying on these dowry payments.

    Illiteracy

    Because of the Illiteracy, most the people are unaware of effect of dowry.they do not realize the harmfull effect of dowry.

    .Narrow mentality

Narrow mentality behind the dowry is anither cause of our country the people have no idea and their mentality is vary narrow and poor.

    Negative attitude towards the women negative attitude is another cause.the male always try to dominate to the female.

    Lack of women’s Education is the backbone of a nation, but if any nation have a small knowledge about education their mentality will grow very poorly and education less people do not observe the real matter. Lack of women’s Education in Families is the reason for giving dowry

    Lack of decision making power of women’s in family  Lack of decision making power of women as in family because in Bangladesh families are ruled by father .Because of that the position of woman in a family is much disagreed

    narrow thinking In a town, people think that giving dowry in a marriage creating more status in society .In a village, most of the people think Dowry is their legal right which has to pay the daughters family in a marriage.  In a village, Poor parents consider any expenses for educating a girl unproductive as she leaves their family after marriage

    Some time bridegroom wants money:

Some time bridegroom wants money to do business or want to make his life settle with that Get late marriage:

In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then they are to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.

    Culture:

The giving of a dower seems to be an established Bangladeshi cultural institution. The wife is expected to bring suitable gifts (monetary or otherwise) with her to her new home or shoshurbari.

Dependence    on   husband   and  living   on   their income,  social  corruption   and   so  on the main causes of dowry. Dowry in Islamic marriages:

Chapter: Seven

7.0 Effects of Dowry

The dowry system no doubt served some useful purposes for the families involved and the society.  It provided an occasion for people to boost their self esteem through feasts and displays of material objects, to make alliances with the families of similar status, to help prevent the breakup of family property, to get a better match for daughter, and to furnish their daughter with some kind of social and economic security.  Yet the dowry system has some effects on the society as well as to the individual.  “Some people insist that “the dowry system is a social evil and an intolerable burden to many brides’ families. Social reformers, politicians and educators vehemently condemn the custom of dowry payments as an unhealthy feature.”    This chapter is an attempt to illustrate some of the evil effects of dowry system. The problems of the dowry can be divided in to four kinds namely: Problems of the Parents, Problems of the Girls, Problems of the Married Women, and Other Problems.

7.1 Problems of the parents

7.1.1 Emotional Disturbances, Psychological and Social Maladjustment of Parents

The institution of dowry may have been useful in days gone but by these days it is nothing but a blot on the canvas of Bangladesh’s social life.  At one time, dowry used to be ‘accepted’ by the grooms party but now it has become to the ‘demanded’.  The result is that “from the day of the birth of the girl, the problem of dowry haunts the minds of the parents.  And if by misfortune, a man has three or four daughters; his whole life is passed in solving only one problem how to arrange the marriage of his daughters.”   This leads to emotional disturbances, psychological and social maladjustments.

7.1.2 Economic Straits

The dowry system was forced upon the society in the olden days as a means of equitable distribution of wealth, with the intention of creating some sort of socialistic pattern.  But it has developed the wrong way and has become a menace to society as a whole, particularly to the middle class who live from hand to mouth. “Whatever they earn, they spend on maintaining the family standard in providing the necessities of family, educating children, and meeting various social obligations.  The result is that to marry their daughters, they have to borrow money, especially when huge demands are made by the boy’s side. This incurred debt is passed on from generation to generation which ultimately ruins the family economically.”  It is not only the girl’s parents who feel the economic repercussion of this evil, but the boy’s parents to suffer virtual impoverishment because of dowry.  When they demand money in alarming proportion, they have also to spend much to keep up their standard and their social prestige.  In many cases, the parents of the boy may not be actually in a position to spend much but to keep up the false show; they have to arrange for money.

7.1.3 Adopting Social Corruption of Foul Means of Earning

Among the severed consequences of ‘dowry greed’ is the ‘social-corruption’ that is a thrust on all concerned.  By and large parents of moderate means find it extremely difficult to meet out the expenses covering dowry and all extravagancies connected with the marriage.  “Compulsion surely breeds corruption and so sometimes the parents of the girl will have to resort to foul means to make money to meet the dowry demand.”  Thus the girl’s parents indulge in malpractices in order to give money to their daughters.

7.1.4 Hard Work of the Parents

Because of demanding huge amount of dowry “the parents have to work hard to provide the boys with good dowries.”   The parents are ready to do all kinds of woks in order to get money so that they can give enough dowries to their daughters.  Because of their hard work they have to face physical as well as mental sickness.

7.2 Problems of the Girls

7.2.1 Female Infanticide

In many families, “birth of a daughter was regarded as a curse till 18th century and there were cases when daughters born in the family were put to death.”  “During the British period the practice of female infanticide was prohibited regarding it as in-human under Female Infanticide prevention Act 1870.”  The social evil of dowry further enlarged the incidents of female infanticide particularly in middle class families. “Since it was impossible to determine the fetus sex there is no alternative in a poor or middle class family except to kill the daughter in infancy.”

7.2.2 Abortion after Determining Sex of Fetus

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by loss or destruction of a fertilized egg, or fetus before birth. “The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 legally permitted abortion if the life or physical or mental health of the woman is in danger or it is in the interest of health of the women or the child born”  The invention of determination of sex of fetus has increased the incidents of abortion or medical termination of pregnancy, when it is determined that the fetus is of a female, without considering the psychological effect or physical health of “Amniocentesis”.

In India, the middle or middle high class families are under going the process of the determination of sex, of the coming child so that risk of the child born as female child can be avoided.  “This has become a normal feature because of the fact that practice of going and taking of dowry has increased enormously.”


“In international usage, literacy is defined as the ability both read and to write at least a simple message: illiteracy, conversely, is the lack of such ability.” “Many people think that it is wastage of time and money to give education to their girls. Parents have negative attitudes towards the girl’s education.” In a study by P. Singh, A. Singh and Suman Lata (2008) it was stated that only three girls attended school out five girls and three boys attended school out of four boys.

7.2.4 More Labour Burden

“Since parents are not able to arrange sufficient amount of money for dowry, they will allow their daughters and sisters to take up a job and earn some money to be utilized at the time of their marriage.”  The girls are asked to leave their schooling and forced to work.  As they do not have sufficient learning they will not be given white-collar jobs instead they will be given all kinds of works with less amount of salary.

7.2.5 Immorality

When the girls join to work in order to get money, are quite nature.  Their youth, the spirit of vigour, and above all sex appetite break the barriers of their so-called modesty when these originally innocent girls come into contact with boys who work with them in offices, educational institutions, firms and companies etc. “The false promises by these boys of a bright future will mislead the girls, and thus misguided, they sometimes become morally wrecks.  It is easy for a boy to escape from the dangers of loose sex-morality but it is difficult for a girl to hide her shame, particularly when she becomes pregnant.”

7.2.6 Psychological Suppression of the Girls

The boy accepts a girl who belongs to a well off family, highly educated, in service, and earns.  His likings do not end here.  He also wants a girl whose parents can pay him much at the time of marriage.  This evil has taken colossal shape in the modern times.  “There are cases where the girl is highly educated, cultured, homely, and accomplished, but not accepted as a wife only because her parents are not able to give much.”  “The fiancé and the fiancée write letters to each other, marriage date has been fixed, but when all of a sudden the boy gets a better offer from a rich family, the engagement is broken. This gives a shock to the parents as well as to the girl.”

7.2.7 Suicide

Suicide is an act whose primary aim is the intentional and deliberate taking of one’s own life. “Suicides are of two types: conventional and personal. The first type occurs as a result of tradition and the force of public opinion. Thus, among some tradition – ruled peoples, when certain situation arise, suicide is inexorably demanded. The second type suicide is more typical of modern times, when people depend less on custom ad convention solve their problems than on individual decisions.”

“Dowry system is a great pernicious evil. It will draw many girls to suicide, to save their parents from economic drudgery.”  When the engagement is broken due to dowry the girl begins to live in the society with a sense of insecurity, develops on inferiority complex, and remains emotionally suppressed. “She feels herself to be a burden on her parents and sometimes in that gloom and mental weariness is prone to commit suicide.”

7.2.8 Affinal Relations

Dowry influences radically not only the economic and the social behavior of the people having daughters but also affects profoundly relations between parents and children, and among kin. “The parents who cannot afford to pay dowry to marry their daughters consider them a burden for the family. Similarly, brothers consider their sisters as barriers in the achievement of their aspirations”  As a result, many a time the treatment given by parents and brothers to girls in the family disrupts harmony in intra-family relations.

7.3 Problems of the Married Women

7.3.1 Family Conflicts

Dowry system leads to family conflicts. When a mother-in-law does not get dowry to her satisfaction, she maltreats her daughter-in-law and abuses her father, mother and relatives. “The emotional shock on the part of the girl and the authoritarian personality of mother-in-law will lead to family conflicts.”

7.3.2 Conjugal Disharmony

Dowry dominates the sense of conjugal disharmony in the affluent and middle class section of the society. It effects the marital relations in a sizeable proportion of married couples. This is mainly so because “the present day youths most unscrupulously threaten their wives with desertion if they do not bring enough dowry from their parents.”  This social evil of dowry is the major cause of break –down of marriages.

7.3.3 Lowering of Women’s Status

Dowry system impoverishes those who pay dowry and degrades those who receive it. Moreover, it lowers the status of women. The boy used to think of himself a dignified individual and views the girl as a subjugated entity with an inferior and degraded status. “As every marriage brings a substantial sum, one would naturally be tempted to contract a second and a third marriage just for its monetary utility.”  Though such marriages are not usual yet they do exist. This affects the status of the first wife as Love, affection and feeling of care her husband bears for her is reduced.

“At parents’ house she is treated as a burden or liability and in the matrimonial home, the dowry she brings is more important than her person. This evil has produced adverse effects on women’s status in the matrimonial home, and is the main tool of exploitation against married women in the matrimonial home.  The in-laws of the bride in an attempt to extract more and more dowry create an atmosphere of harassment and cruelty.”  Generally it is found that a wife coming to the matrimonial home without dowry is subjected to many humiliations.  She as an individual has no utility unless she brings dowry.

7.3.4 Women’s Oppression

Dowry is the symbol of woman’s oppression. “She goes into her matrimonial home bedecked with gold and accompanied by dowry which her parents have bought with their blood and sweat and thereafter, pushed into a life of subservience”.   It gives to man the right to put a price on her and accept or reject her marriage according to the money and goods she brings. “The air of superiority of bridegroom and his family thus causes unmeasured grief to girls and has degraded their position.”  The practice of dowry thus not only perpetuates inferior status of women in their matrimonial home but also become a cause of self-immolation.

7.3.5 Dowry Death

The dowry prohibition Act.1986 introduced a new office, the office of dowry death by inserting a new section 304-B in the Indian penal code. That section runs:

“Where the death of a women is caused by any burns or body injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “Dowry Death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death”  The most media-sensationalized type of violence against women in India is dowry death.  When a woman marries, her family provides the husbands’ family with gifts. In many instances, the demand for these gifts, does not end with the marriage but continues, as the husband’s family persists in making additional dowry demands for years after the wedding.  A dowry death is defined as “the unnatural death of a woman caused by burns or bodily injury occur if it can be shown that the woman was subjected to cruelty by her husband or her husband’s relatives shortly before death in connection with a demand for dowry”

The problem of husband-to-wife or wife-battering is not recognized by some scholars as an instance of “animal violence” but it is viewed by them as a “human welfare” problem.  Contrary to this, “the problem of bride-burning or dowry-death is not considered a private family matter.  This problem has been largely recognized by the public, the intellectual community and the criminal system as a crucial problem of criminal violence.”        According to the Ministry of home Affairs, Govt. of India, it was found that in 2001 – 6851, 2002 – 6822, 2003 – 6208, 2004 – 7026, 2005 – 6787 dowry deaths were occurred. But it is not an exact data because there are many dowry deaths occurred, which are not registered.”  It can be explained with the help of chart.

The actual number is certainly larger, as there are many deaths that are not reported.  “Dowry-related violence against women occurs among all subgroups of the population, the rates are higher among the poor and the lower castes. Alcoholism is also associated with increase in violence against women.”

7.3.6 Treatment and Humiliation

Though dowry-death is generally understood to involve the murder of a woman on the dowry issue in the family of procreation but before the act of killing, several forms of harassment and humiliation take place against the victim.  “The killers in dowry-deaths are brutal and authoritarian and the murder is only one expression of the offender’s personality maladjustment and abnormality.”  The humiliation generally will start with criticism, followed by familiar scenes-insults, abuses and demands for more money.  Some women used to put up with victimization because they know that their parents are not in a position to give more and to some other will think that things will change after the birth of a child.

The methods used in ill treating daughters-in-law are:

(1)Abuses, insults, passing sarcastic remarks, (2) Assaults, (3) Denial of food or starvation, (4) Prohibiting them from going out and meeting any one, (5) Refusing visits to the parents’ home, (6) Not permitting them to talk with visitors from the parents’ home, and (7) Locking them up in a room.”  The problem of dowry-death is not and cannot be a uni-causal problem; it is the product of a complex multi-dimensional process.

7.3.7 Divorce

Divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage. Divorce is distinguished from annulment, which declares a marriage void from the time of its celebration in some societies divorce is rare, while in others a permanent union is unusual. In most societies, public opinion tends to be opposed to divorce, but in a few societies social pressure serves to undermine the marital relationship. The general public view of most groups has been that divorce is unfortunate but often necessary.  One of the reasons for divorce will be dowry. When a marriage is fixed some considerable amount will be given as dowry, by parents of the Bride, or will be asked by the Bridegroom’s family members. But in many cases the demanding for dowry will also continue after the marriage. The parents who are able to give will give. But many of the parents are unable to give the demanded as a result; harassments will take place by the Bridegroom’s family. The Girl who is not able to get dowry either she will appeal for divorce, or her parents will appeal for divorce.

7.3.8 Bride Burning

Connected with the evil of dowry system is the cruelty infected on a bride after marriage.  Brides are done to death or driven to late; the phenomenon of dowry death has aroused much public concern.  Newspaper have printed banner headlines, “Bride Burning – A Burning Issue”.  “Husband Held in Dowry case,” “Dowry Death Rally Against Public Apathy,” “Yet Another Dowry Death in the Capital and the like,”

A number of unfortunate young women in the society died of burning.  The cause was mostly their incapacity to bring the amount of cash or things demanded by their husbands and in – law during the first few years after their marriage.

The harassment and violence against the bride revolves around the demand for more and more dowry and it continues till divorce or death of the wife takes place.  Since the divorce is put to ridicule and looked down in the society, therefore, death is preferred.  up tension of an acute degree in the mind of the woman, so that ultimately death becomes the last refuse for her.  A stranger in the family, young and dependent, she may not be able to face the harassment and as a result may put an end to her life.  Young brides and daughter – in – law have become much prone to fire in wake of intolerable torture and victimization.  It is a matter of shame that dowry deaths have become a day to day phenomenon in the society.

7.4 Other Problems

7.4.1 Child Marriage

Dowry demand will also lead to child-marriages.  For an educated girl, the more educated and qualified husband is needed.  This necessitates greater dowry.  Thus the parents prefer early marriages than to do so at a later age with higher demand of dowry.”

7.4.2 Unequal Marriage

“Dowry is closely related to the financial position of the parents of the girl, many people who are poor offer their young daughters to very elderly persons.”  Girls are forced to marry undeserving men, aged persons or with a man having one or two living wives or with liquour-adicts as no dowry need to be given to such persons

More than 35 million people in Bangladesh, around a quarter of its population, face acute poverty and hunger. Dowry payments of more than 200 times the daily wage and costly medical expenses are major causes of this chronic poverty says research from the University of Bath. It is the poor who really suffer economically and socially as a result of the practice dowry.

The custom of paying a dowry to the future husband’s family when a daughter is married is illegal in Bangladesh, but is still practiced by most families living in rural areas. Payment is normally upwards from 20,000 Taka (around £190) and since typical earnings are only 100 Taka (94 pence) per day, this can be a major contributor to poverty for many families with daughters.

The trend of rising dowries, commonly  referred to  as  inflation, has received much attention, as payments can represent multiple  years’ worth  of  a  family’s  income and often cause severe destitution of households with daughters of marriageable age.

Through this custom the bride has to give a large amount of money, furniture, ornaments and many things to the bridegroom. It is a very terrible situation  for  the society. Women & their family suffer a lot for this dowry system.

The money of dowry is often raised by the sale or mortgaging of land at low prices. It also includes livestock, trees, household goods and family jewelry and as well as loans from NGOs and moneylenders at high rates of interest.

Additionally, a common result of unmet dowry is sending the girl or woman back to her parent as house. When this happens every one considers that it must be the fault of the girl or woman saying such things as: she could not adapt to her husband or She cannot look after her husband properly So, once again both the girl and her parents suffer from rumors and criticism. This also affects the reputation of the younger sisters.

Apart from the social stigma attached to the girls being returned to live with her parents there are other problems. Her brothers and their wives may resent her presence, particularly if she has brought children with her. She is seen as a drain on the household resources and may be verbally, and even physically, abused by her own family.

Dowry-related violence is particularly problematic in Bangladesh. A survey conducted by Naogaon Human Rights Development Associations (NHRDA) revealed that 84% percent of the cases it received in 2000 were dowry related wife battering cases. In 2001, 173 girls and women were killed due to dowry demand with 79 of these victims below the age of 18.

Repression of women for their inability to bring adequate or repeated installments of dowry from their poor parents and resultant deaths or grievous injuries is rather disquietingly frequent.

Other Effects of dowry:

It has become very difficult to find a suitable match for a girl without paying handsome dowry. It has soursssed the relations and there are tensions, ill will and disharmony in the families. Marriage has become a kind of business and exploitation of the parents of a girl. Thus, bridegrooms are bought and sold like commodities and the girls sacrificed on the altar of marriage.

It is a much-unexpected situation for the bride family members. They are to collect a huge amount of money for their daughters or sisters marriage. Sometime they are to take loan, sell their lands, furniture, ornaments and even their own house to collect the money. They are to lose many things and face many problems for this dowry system. Beside these there are a lute of effects of dowry Bangladesh.

Chapter: Eight

8.1 Dowry death

Dowry deaths are deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.

Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women, alongside rape, bride burning, eve teasing, and acid throwing. It is widespread in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some regions of Africa. Pakistan has the highest reported rates of dowry-related deaths per 100,000 women in the world.

8.2. Types of Dowry Death

Dowry death depending upon the causes and legal significance are broadly group under the following categories:-

  1. Death due to Burns.
  2. Death to the Drowning.

iii.  Death due to Asphyxia inclusive of Hanging, Throttling, Strangulation, Smothering etc.

  1. Death due to Poisoning.
  2. Other miscellaneous death.

All these categories have different legal value and therefore a critical analysis of these cases has to undertaken, taking into consideration, history circumstantial evidence investigation officers report, postmortem reports etc.

Majority of dowry death are due to burning poisoning of drowning where case of death can be clinched easily, yet great must be taken to find out or truth and the exact cause. In almost all case victims are usually young roamed females. Many of these cases are labeled an accidental death to hide the crime; but actually speaking these are turned to be homicidal in nature. So, in all cases, it is the prime duty of forensic experts to ferret out the actual causes of death on the basic of domestic criteria.


Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire; this is known as “bride burning”, and sometimes disguised as suicide or accident. Suicide and murder are two causes of fatalities in dowry deaths. Death by burning of Indian women have been more frequently attributed to dowry conflicts. In dowry deaths, the groom’s family is perpetrator of murder or suicide.

8.4 Pakistan

In Pakistan, dowry is called Jahez. Dowry related violence and deaths have been widespread for many decades. At over 2000 dowry-related deaths per year, and annual rates exceeding 2.45 deaths per 100,000 women from dowry-related violence, Pakistan has the highest reported number of dowry death rates per 100,000 women in the world.

Dowry deaths have been rising in Pakistan for decades. Over 95% of marriages in every region of Pakistan involves transfer of a dowry from the bride’s family to a groom’s family.

8.5 Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, dowry is called joutuk, and a significant cause of deaths as well. Between 0.6 to 2.8 brides per year per 100,000 women are reported to die because of dowry-related violence in recent years. The methods of death include suicides, fire and other forms of domestic

Dowry is a new event in the muslim society of Bangladesh. Hindus practiced dowry from the time immemorial but it was unknown to the muslims. It infiltrated from the hindus community of india. It is not only practiced in the rich families but also in the poor family to uplift from poverty by taking money from brides family. It is sorrowful that still some authors confuse the dower with dowry. It is generalized as pre-mortem inheritance.  It happens probably for the concept of stridhanam in hindu law though the two is completely different and reverse.

The present situation of dowry in Bangladesh is somewhat different contextual in comparison with the past traditional dowry situation. In the present time to show luxury and greed is the prime object behind the practice of dowry. To one author, the present dimension of dowry evil are the result of increasing industrial culture and fascination for material prosperity, i.e. to get rich overnight, to possess the latest gadgets of comfort and luxury and the display of wealth. The effect of dowry is so strong that even in England where many of the immigrants are from south asia, the same dowry problem occurs.

From 2002 – 2006 total 5128 women and girl children were raped, 1683 were the victims of dowry related violence and 855 women were the victims of acid violence. According to odhikar statistics, in 2002, 191 women have been killed for dowry and 324 violated for it, in 2003, 261 killed for dowry and 384 violence for it, in 2004, 166 women killed for dowry and 270 violated for it, in 2005, 227 women killed for dowry and 382 were violated for it and in 2006, 243 women have been killed for dowry and 323 were violated for it .

Chart: Dowry related killing and violence in BD from 2002-2006.

Within 9 months of the year 2010, the rate of dowry related crime is higher than that of previous record. 113 women were murdered for dowry in 9 months of 2010 among 880 of total total murder this year  .

Chart: Rate of dowry related murder from Jan-Sep. 2010.

These alarming figures of increase of crime against women also evidence that the new legislation with deterrent punishment is not enough to eradicate such crimes from society. The Tahir Mahmood rightly expressed his view, “whenever a law is made too stringent under the pressure of emotionally surcharged social reactions, there is the danger of its misuse”- once observed a learned Supreme Court judge speaking on the anti-dowry legislation of India . The dowry is stipulated at the time of marriage and a portion of the amount is paid at marriage and remaining left for later. But afterwards if not paid, the husband pressurize the wife and even kill if the in law family ultimately fails to pay the money. It is though prohibited by Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 and severely penalized by Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act, 2000, the crime remains in vogue in the society as tradition.

Chapter: Nine

9.1 Laws relating to dower and dowry:

Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937. [Act No. XXVI of 1937]

Relevant Statutes of Bangladesh concerning dower, dowry and women empowerment

Dissolution Of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 [Act No. VIII Of 1939

Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 [Ord. No. VIII Of 1961].

Muslim Family Law Rules, 1961.

Muslim Marriages And Divorces Registration Act, 1974 [Act No. LII Of 1974].

Muslim Marriages And Divorces Registration Rules, 1975. .

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 [Act No. XXXV Of 1980].

Family Courts Ordinance, 1985 [Ord. No. XVIII Of 1985.]

Family Courts Rules, 1985.

Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Domon Ain, 2000. [Act No VIII of 2000].

Dowry prohibition act, 1980. [Act no. XXXV of 1980]

An Act to prohibit the taking or giving of dowry in marriages.

WHEREAS it is expedient to make provision to prohibit the taking or giving of dowry in marriages;

It is hereby enacted as follows:- Section Index

Short title and commencement

  1. (1) This Act may be called the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980.

(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.


  1. In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-

(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or

(b) by the parents of either party   to   a  marriage   or   by   any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person; at the time of marriage or at any time] before or after the marriage as consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mehr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

Explanation I. – For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that any presents made at the time of a marriage by any person other than a party to the marriage to either party to the marriage in the form of any articles the value of which does not exceed five hundred taka, shall not be deemed to be dowry within the meaning of this section, unless they are made as consideration for the marriage of the said party.

Explanation II.- The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as the section 30 of the Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860).

Penalty for giving or taking dowry:

  1. If any person, after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall not be less than one year, or with fine, or with both.

Penalty for demanding dowry

  1. If any person, after the commencement of this Act, demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall not be less than one year, or with fine, or with both].

Agreement for giving or taking dowry to be void:

  1. Any agreement for the giving or taking of dowry shall be void.

Cognizance of offences:

  1. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898),-

(a) no Court inferior to that of a magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act;

(b) no Court shall take cognizance of any such offence except on a complaint made within one year from the date of the offence;

(c) it shall be lawful for a magistrate of the first class to pass any sentence authorized by this Act on any person convicted of an offence under this Act. Offence to be non cognizable, etc

  1. Every offence under this Act shall be non cognizable, non-bailable and compoundable.

Power to make rules :

  1. (1) The Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

(2) Every rule made under this section shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before Parliament and if Parliament before the expiry of the session in which it is laid, agree in making any modification in the rule or agree that the rule should not be made, the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be, subject that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.

The cruelty to women (deterrent punishment) ordinance, 1983:

This ordinance is made to deter serious form of cruelty to women with severe punishment. This ordinance prescribes punishment of offender with the imprisonment for life or provides death penalty for kidnapping or abducting women, trafficking women and attempting to cause death or for committing rape.

Though there was the law regarding all the crimes, for special attention towards women this special law was enacted. The cruelty to women is the more aggravated than the ordinary crimes. The law brought some new aspect such as murder after rape, or murder for dowry. Minimum 7 years was determined as the lowest punishment in this law by the subsequent amendment of this law.

However, the law was abolished by the subsequent law of 1995 called prevention of repression against women and children (special provision) Act, 1995 which was also subsequently repealed by suppression of violence against women act, 2000.

9.2 Unofficial Translation of Nari O Shishu Nitjatan Domon Ain, 2000.

Suppression Of Violence Against Women Act, 2000 [Act No VIII of 2000].

This Act is enacted to make necessary provisions for the prevention of crime against women and children.  Whereas, it is proper and expedient to make provisions for the strict prevention of offences relating to women and child oppression:  So the Act is enacted as follows:-

  1. Short Title: This Act shall be called The Prevention of Oppression Against Women and

Children Act 2000.

  1. Definition: Unless different intention appears from the subject or context, in this Act-
  2. a) ‘Offence’ means any offence punishable under this Act.
  3. b) ‘Abduction’ means taking a person away by force or by inducement or by instigation or by misrepresentation or by coersion from one place to another.
  4. c) ‘Detention’ means confining a person against his/her will.
  5. d) ‘Tribunal’ means any tribunal established under this Act.
  6. e) ‘Rape’ means rape stated under section 375 of the Penal Code 1860 (Act XLV of 1860) subject to section 9 under this Act;
  7. f) ‘New born baby’ means any baby which is below the age of forty days;
  8. g) ‘Woman’ means a woman of any age;
  9. h) ‘Ransom’ means financial facility or any other facility;
  10. i) ‘Criminal Procedure’ means the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (Act V of 1898);
  11. j) ‘Dowry’ means money, goods or any property which has been given or agreed to give to the bride-groom or his father or mother or any person on his behalf, directly or indirectly, at the time of marriage or before marriage at any time after marriage in condition with the smooth continuation of marital life or as a consideration given by the side of the bride and the money, goods or property which has been demanded from the bride or her father or mother or any person on her behalf, by the bride-groom or his father or mother or ay other person on his behalf as the above mentioned condition or consideration.
  12. k) ‘Child’ means any person under fourteen years of age;
  13. l) ‘High Court division’ means the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
  14. Supremacy of the Act: Notwithstanding anything contained under any other law for the time being in force, the provisions of this Act shall prevail.
  15. Punishment for offences committed by corrosive or any other substances:
  16. Whoever causes death or attempts to cause death of any woman or a child by burner, corrosive poisonous substance, he shall be punished with death or transportation for life and also with fine not exceeding one lac taka. ii. Whoever causes hurt to a child or a woman in consequence of which the sight or ear is permanently damaged or any organ, joint or limb thereof is disfigured any part of the body of the woman or the child is as such that-
  17. a) The sight or ear is damaged or face or breast or sexual organ is disfigured, the person shall be punished with death or transportation for life and also with fine not exceeding one lac taka.
  18. b) In case where, any limb, joint or part of the body is disfigured or any part of the body is damaged, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to fourteen years but not less than seven years of rigorous punishment and also with fine not exceeding fifty thousand taka. Whoever throws or attempts to throw any substance burner, caustic or poisonous over a child or a woman, he shall be punished , if the child or woman is injured physically, mentally or otherwise in consequence of such act, with rigorous imprisonment of either description which may extend to seven years but not less than three years and also with fine not exceeding fifty thousand taka.
  19. The fine amount imposed under this section, shall be realized from, the person convicted or his existing property or if he is dead from the property left at the time of his death, under the provision of the law in force, and shall be given to the successors of the person died in consequences of the offence or in place, to the person who is injured physically, mentally or to the successors of that person if he dead.
  20. Punishment for trafficking of woman:
  21. Whoever fetches from abroad or dispatches or sends abroad for prostitution or, to engage a woman in illicit immoral act or sale or buy or, for the purpose of torturing her in rent or otherwise or, keeps a woman in his possession, custody or security for such purpose, he shall be punished with death or transportation for life or with rigorous imprisonment of either description which may extend to twenty years but not less than ten years and also with fine.
  22. If a woman is transferred through sale rent or otherwise to a prostitute or the caretaker of a brothel or the manager of it, the man transferring such, if not proved otherwise, shall be deemed to have sold or transferred the woman for the purpose of prostitution and shall also be punished under sub-section (³).

iii. If the caretaker of a brothel or any person engaged in the management of the brothel, keeps in his possession or custody of any woman through sale, rent or otherwise, he shall be deemed, if not proved otherwise, to have bought or rented or taken in possession or custody of that woman to use that woman as a prostitute and shall be punished under sub-section (³).

  1. Punishment for kidnapping a child or a woman: Whoever kidnaps a child or a woman for the purpose other than of which to commit an offence under section 5, he shall be punished with transportation for life or with rigorous imprisonment for either description, which may extend to fourteen years and also with fine.
  2. Punishment for taking ransom: Whoever detains a child or a woman to levy a ransom; he shall be punished with death or with rigorous imprisonment for life and also with fine.
  3. Punishment for rape or death in consequence of rape:
  4. Whoever commits rape with a woman or a child, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for life and with fine. Explanation: Whoever has sexual intercourse without lawful marriage with a woman not being under fourteen years of age, against her will or with her consent obtained, by putting her in fear or by fraud, or with a woman not being above fourteen years of age with or without her consent, he shall be said to commit rape. ii. If in consequence of rape or any act by him after rape, the woman or the child so raped, died later, the man shall be punished with death or with transportation for life and also with fine not exceeding one lac taka.

iii. If more than one man rape a woman or a child and that woman or child dies or is injured in consequences of that rape, each of the gang shall be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for life and also with fine not exceeding one lac taka.

  1. Whoever attempts on a woman or a child-
  2. a) To cause death or hurt after rape, he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for life and also with fine.
  3. b) To commit rape, he shall be punished with imprisonment for either description, which may extend to ten years but not less than five years rigorous imprisonment and also with fine. v. If a woman is raped in the police custody, each and every person, under whose custody the rape was committed and they all were directly responsible for safety of that woman, shall be punished for failure to provide safety, unless otherwise proved, with imprisonment for either description which may extend to ten years but not less than five years of rigorous imprisonment and also with fine.
  4. Punishment for sexual oppression:
  5. Whoever, to satisfy his sexual urge illegally, touches the sexual organ or other organ of a woman or a child with any organ of his body or with any substance, his act shall be said to be sexual oppression and he shall be punished with imprisonment for either description which may extend to ten years but not less than two years of rigorous imprisonment and also with fine.
  6. Whoever , to satisfy his sexual urge illegally, assaults a woman sexually or makes any indecent gesture, his act shall be deemed to be sexual oppression and he shall be punished with imprisonment for either description which may extend to seven years but not less than two years of rigorous imprisonment and also with fine.
  7. Punishment for causing death for dowry: If the husband of a woman or his father, mother, guardian or any other person on behalf of the husband, causes death or attempts to cause death, cause hurt or attempts to cause hurt to the woman, the husband, the father, mother guardian, relative or any other person on his behalf, shall;
  8. for causing death or attempt for causing death, be punished with transportation for life and also with fine, in both case;
  9. be punished with transportation for life for causing hurt and with imprisonment for either description which may extend to fourteen years but not less than five years of rigorous punishment in case of attempt to hurt and also with fine in both the case.
  10. Provision regarding the child born in consequence of rape: Notwithstanding anything contained under any other law for the time being in force, any child born in consequence of a rape:-
  11. the maintenance of that child shall be borne by the person who commits rape;
  12. the Tribunal may determine after the birth of the child, in whose custody the child shall be and how much money shall be provided to the legal guardian, by the person who commits rape, as expense for the maintenance of the child;

iii. this expense shall be provided for upto the period, the child attains twenty-one years if male and, marriage of the female child, if not disabled, and until the date he/she obtains the capability to earn his/her living, if disabled.

  1. Prohibition on publishing acquaintance of a woman or a child oppressed, in new media:
  2. Any news, information or name &address or any other information regarding any offence, under this Act, committed or any legal proceeding thereof, of which a woman or a child is the victim, shall be published or presented as such that the acquaintance of the woman or the child shall be undisclosed.
  3. In case, where the provision under sub-section (³) is infringed, the person or persons liable for such infringement, each shall be punished with imprisonment for either description, which may extend to two years or with fine not exceeding one lac taka or both.
  4. Realization of fine from inheritable property in future: The Tribunal may consider the fine if thinks necessary, which is imposed for the offences under section 4to 14 of this Act, as damages for the victim of the offence and in case, where the fine cannot be realized from the convict or from his existing property, it can be realized from the property of which he will be the owner or in possession in future and the claim of such fine or damage shall prevail over any other claim on that property.
  5. Punishment for instigation or abetment of offence: Whoever instigate to commit an offence under this Act and the offence is committed or an attempt was made to commit the offence in consequence of the instigation, or, whoever abets another to commits an offence under this Act, shall be punished with the punishment provided for the commission of the offence or for the attempt to commit the offence.
  6. Safe custody: if at any stage of the trial of an offence under this Act, the Tribunal thinks that any woman or child is needed to be kept in safe custody, the Tribunal can direct it keep the woman or the child, out of the jail and under the custody of a Govt. authority determined by the Govt. for this purpose or under the custody of a person or organization whom the tribunal thinks proper.
  7. Medical test of a woman or a child being raped:
  8. Medical test of a woman or a child being raped shall be taken no sooner had the rape is committed.
  9. If the medical test is not taken immediately under sub-section (³), the Tribunal can direct the appointing authority of the doctor to take step against him for negligence in duty.
  10. Power to make rule: the Government may, by official Gazette, make rule, for the purpose of this Act.
  11. Abolishment of Act No XVIII of 1995 and its preservation:
  12. Nari o Shishu Nirjatan (Special Act) Ain 1995(Act No XVIII of 1995), later stated as this Act, is abolished hereby.
  13. Next before the abolishment of this law any case not concluded shall be tried by the Tribunal concerned and appeal against the order, judgment or punishment passed in such case, shall be administered and settled as such that the law has not been abolished yet.

iii. Any report or complaint of an offence or the charge- sheet of any offence under that law which is submitted or the case which is pending, all such cases shall be deemed to be pending cases under sub-section (³³).

  1. All the courts named Nari O Shashu Nirjatan Daman Bishesh Adalat under that law, shall be deemed to the Tribunal under this Act and tea cases under sub-section (³³) shall be settled here

9.3 Dowry prohibition ACT of Bangladesh

Dowry; property or money given by a bride’s family to a groom’s family or vice versa as part of a Marriage Contract. In Bengali it is known as pan or joutuk. In Hindu and Urdu it is called dahej. In Bangladesh the practice is given or taking of dowry was made a punishable offence by a dowry prohibition Act of 1980 to prevent wives being oppressed and murdered on account of it. Mahr, denmahr or mahrana, payable obligatory by a husband to his wife as part of the written or unwritten marriage contract under Muslim personal law or Shariah law, is to be regarded as dower as not dowry. Muslim dower or Mahr are also excluded from the purview of the Indian Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961.

The Bangladesh provides act the payment or demand for payment of dowry by any one is punishment with imprisonment for up to five years or a fine or with both. The laws enacted in 1983, 1995, and 200 to prevent cruelty to women and children provide for a sentence of death or life imprisonment and financially penalty to a husband or any of his relatives who causes or attempt to cause death or grievous injury to a wife on account of dowry.

But neither in India nor in Bangladesh has the prohibited social vice of dowry, now payable mostly to grooms for their higher value in the marriage market on account of their capacity to earn a good living or higher status in society, stopped or diminished in any noticeable degree. Repression of women their inability to bring adequate or repeated installments of dowry form their poor parents and resultant deaths or grievous injuries is rather disquietingly frequent. Although the practice has been condemns since Vedic times, times it has persisted till this day despite repeated efforts, both moral and legal to eradicate it.

In ancient Hindu society there developed, in disregard to the frown of the secure, the custom of paying dowry as bride price but in modern times, this has terms into dowry as groom price because of hyper gamy or kulinism.The traditional concept of hyper gamy based on caste distinction has since the 19th century assumed a new dimension in the shape of university degrees. The Bengal census Report of 1911quoted one eminent observer as saying:  “Education, instead of stifling or mitigating the baneful effects of kulinism, has to a horrible degree to strengthen them. In fact, the university standard has become a more powerful engine of oppression for this girl’s father than 85 Kulinism.” Educational qualification put up the price of a groom because he has more likely to get a remunerative employment. As Muslim took to English education about fifty years behind Hindus, this brand of in Kulinism, addition to the prevailing Kulinism in the of khandani families in contract with the families in such lowly profession as farming, weaving and oil-milling, also developed among them promoting the practice of dowry on a wider scale. The Bangladesh widespread prevalence of dowry among Hindus attributed to strict kulinism or caste restriction, especially  among the higher caste BRAHMANs having even more than a hundred wives allowing them to visit a wife left her father house not moiré than once year. This made it easy for these Brahmans to live like parasites on the dowries and hospitality of their many fathers-in-law.

In Islamic societies Mohr or denmahr (bride price) is payable in two-on the spot at wedding and delayed. The wife may legally refuse to have conjugal relations with the husband until the first part is paid. The second part is a debt that a husband must pay on demand even if divorced or widowed and this is to be paid if the claim is made with in three years. Denmahr is payable to the wife under the circumstance even if there is no mention of it in the marriage contract. It is obligatory on the part of the husband whether he is rich or poor, adult or adolescent, young or old. If he is incapable of paying, the court will not spare him. Under Islamic law, denmahr is entirely the wife’s property. Denmahr, bride price or dowry, never permitted the wife to be treated harshly by the husband; it merely conferred legal recognition to the two to lead conjugal life and to have children.

The social scenario in the subcontinent, especially in Bangladesh has remained largely static and the authorities continue to be engaged in legal exercises to prevent dowry related cruelty to women. Religious and social inhabitation still acts as roadblock to women hi8gher education and denies them wider job opportunities for economic independence. Combined with the high rise  population,  very low GDP growth, and poor social security services, these factors reduce the possibility of dowry being eliminated from the society in the near or even the distant future.

9.4. Punishment for causing death for Dowry

If any husband of a women or father of the husband or his mother, guardian, relatives or behalf of the husband causes the death of the women for dowry or attempts to cause the make such women to be grievously hurt or simple hurt  then the said husband, husbands or guardian, relatives or person————-

  1. a) For causing death the conviction of death and for attempting to cause death life term imprisonment and for both there shall be fined.
  2. b) Shall be punished with life imprisonment or not more than twelve years but not less than five years and above this monetary penalty may also be imposed for causing grievous hurt.
  3. c) Shall be punished for not more than a year but not less one year and above this monetary penalty may also be imposed.

Chapter: Ten


10.1 Army officer jailed in dowry case

Published: 2013-08-26 21:31:39.0 BdST Updated: 2013-08-26 21:31:39.0 BdST

A Dhaka Court has sent an officer of Bangladesh Army to jail in a dowry harassment case.

Metropolitan Magistrate Asaduzzaman Nur passed the order on Monday following a case filed by the wife of the army personnel.

The court threw out a bail petition by Major Sumon Ahmed who is currently working at National Defence College in the capital.

Kishoyara Sultana Salma, also a leader of Juba League, had filed the case on Jul 25 alleging her husband was pushing her to secure Tk 1 million from her family as dowry.

On that very day, the court issued a warrant of arrest for the army personnel. But, he secured a four-week bail from the High Court later.

Ahmed surrendered before the Dhaka Court on Monday after the bail expired.

Syed Nazmul Haque, counsel for the plaintiff, said Ahmed had also served as the  Officer of RAB-1.

She alleged Ahmed tortured her often for money.

Nazrul Islam Sarder, Ahmed’s lawyer, however, dismissed the allegations as ‘false’.

“This is a false case. It has been filed only to harass Ahmed,” he told

10.2 Warrant issued for arrest of Ramna police OC in dowry case:

Court Correspondent

The Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Tribunal on Sunday issued a warrant for arrest of AK Saidul Hoque Bhuiyan, the officer-in-charge (investigation) of the Ramna, in a dowry related case his wife filed. Tribunal judge Sadiqul Islam Talukdar passed the order.

On July 31, Marium Akter Moushumi, wife of Saidul Hoque, filed the case.

A judiciary inquiry that took place after the case had been filed said that no evidence of dowry demand had been found.  The tribunal issued the warrant after taking cognisance of the case as the plaintiff submitted filed an objection petition. According to the case details, Saidul and Marium got married on January 28, 2011. They have a one-year-and-a-half-old baby girl named Nazia. After the marriage, Saidul started demanding Tk 20 lakh from Marium to buy a car. When Marium refused to give him money, Saidul beat her up mercilessly on July 17, 2013. Fahmida Akter of Bangladesh Jatiya Mahila Ainjibi Samiti acted for the petitioner.

10.3. 255 women suffered dowry-related violence in the first six months of 2013

Despite a number of laws and ordinances criminalizing dowry and related violence against women, victims are increasingly seeking solutions outside the court as legal battles cost too much and take too long for them to bear.

Many victims believe if they take their cases to court they do not always stand the chance of winning, especially in the absence of physical evidence and witnesses to corroborate for them, or they think that by reporting incidents they invite further harassment. As a result families and victims are discouraged from pursuing legal action.

Anti-dowry activists say most incidents of dowry-related violence in Bangladesh go unreported and in cases where there are deaths – with victims murdered or driven to suicide – the families would rather come to a “compromise” than go to court.

“Contrary to our expectations, domestic violence against women especially because of dowry has increased, largely thanks to lack of implementation of the existing laws and slack monitoring of law enforcement officials,” said Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA).

In total, 255 women suffered dowry-related violence in the first six months of this year, according to a recent report by rights organisation Odhikar. Of them, 163 women were harassed and tortured, 86 were murdered for failing to meet demands for dowry and six women committed suicide.

An ICDDRB research paper on incidents of “dowry and spousal physical violence against women” concluded that women married without demands for dowry were less frequently abused than those who were expected to pay dowry.

It said that nearly 88% of married women in rural areas were expected to give dowries and a large number of them faced various kinds of torture if they failed to do so.

Sources said, as rates of dowry deaths rise, so do people’s tendencies to come to mutually-beneficial out of court compromises, with relatives of victims paid various amounts in compensation.

18-year-old Halima from Dinajpur was married at 16. Her husband and in-laws started demanding dowry from the third day into her marriage and she was often tortured, even during her pregnancy and after the birth of a daughter a year later.

Two years into the marriage, one morning Halima’s body was found hanging from a ceiling fan. Her father, tired of the endless demands made by his son-in-law and his family, wanted to file a case against them but a neighbour convinced him not to. Instead the two families came to an “understanding” that Halima’s family would not take legal action and the husband’s family would pay them Tk65,000 as compensation for Halima’s death.

Advocate Ali said victims’ relatives agree to a compromise out of fears for security, or because they think a court battle might just be too costly or too lengthy. She said there are also concerns that they might not get any justice at all.

She said: “The government would do well by arranging speedy trials for all cases related to dowry-violence, which would ensure quick justice and remove doubts and unease from the minds of victims’ families.”

Lawyer Elina Khan also emphasised on the need for speedy trials in such cases. She said: “Some women do not want to pursue legal battles against their husbands fearing the consequences, but they are mostly from poor backgrounds and do not want to lose the shelter provided by husbands. These reasons primarily lead to out of court compromises reached by many families.”

State Minister for Women and Child Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki said: “We are trying our best to reduce the rate of violence against women. But if they do not come forward themselves and file cases, how would we know they are being tortured?”

10.4. Husband pours hot water on wife for dowry:

A housewife on Tuesday suffered brutal torture by her husband for demand of dowry even after 15 years of their wedding and payment of Tk 1 lakh that time.

Day labourer Swapan Miah, 37, poured hot water on Shikha Khandaker, 30, burning her face, neck, chest, back and abdomen around 10:00am at their house in Mainar Tak of Uttar Khan in the capital.

She was rushed to Bangladesh Medical College Hospital, from there to Tangail Sadar Hospital and finally to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Swapan was demanding another Tk 1 lakh as dowry for the past two years and went into hiding immediate after the incident.

Shikha filed a case with Uttar Khan police station yesterday against her husband under the Women and Children Repression Prevent Act.

Zahidul Islam alias Akash, son of Shikha and a class five student of local BRAC School said during the incident his mother was removing pulp of boiled potatoes.

“Father asked mother whether he would pour the hot water where the potatoes were boiled outside home. She gave her nod. He lifted the pot and suddenly poured it on her and ran away.

“He was looking at my mother for about a minute and was thinking something before the move,” Akash said.

He added they came to Dhaka around a year ago from Nagarpur in Tangail. “We had to shift house seven times, as my father used to beat up my mother and owners of the houses forced us to leave.”

Shikha said around 8:00am that day Swapan told her to bring him Tk 1 lakh from her father.

“I told him that my father could not give him the money. Hearing this he started beating me. When I wanted to go to my father’s house, he asked me to cook rice for him.

“He poured the hot water on me when I was removing pulp of potatoes after cooking rice,” said an ailing Shikha on the bed of the DMCH burn unit.

Shikha’s father Khandaker Nazrul Islam, a trader from Mirzapur in Tangail, said, “I gave him Tk 1 lakh during their marriage 15 years ago. He took the money saying that he would start a business. But he did not do anything.

“I also gave him all the furniture they needed for the family. He started demanding another Tk 1 lakh in the last two years saying that he would start a shop in Dhaka.”

The officer-in-charge of Uttar Khan police said they have visited the spot and are trying to arrest Swapan.

10.5. Husband Attack Wife with Knife:

Fahima Begum, a mother of five-month-old boy, managed to save her child from a knife attack but could not protect herself. The attacker is none other than her husband who swooped on them failing to get dowry from his in-laws’ house.

With two major stab wounds in her body, the 20-year-old woman is now undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

The incident took place at their rented house at Kathgora in Savar on September 24. Other tenants caught the husband, M Kawser, in the act and have left him tied up in the house since then.

Married for four years, Fahima and Kawser used to work at sweater factories near their house, but she stopped working in December last year when she was five months pregnant.

Her husband also stopped going to factory four months ago due to reasons unknown and started selling muri (puffed rice), which he continued only for two months, Fahima said, lying in her hospital bed.

“After the birth of my baby, my in-laws started pressing me to resume my factory work, but I didn’t comply as I wanted to give more time to my son,” said Fahima, who used to earn more than her husband.

On September 9, Kawser asked his mother-in-law Shahinoor Begum, who lives with her three other children close to his house, to pay Tk 50,000 in dowry, saying that he needed the money to start firewood business.

As she expressed her inability to give the money, Kawser pressed his wife to manage the money.

The next day he met Fahima’s uncle Bachchu, a firewood trader, at their village home at Amtoli in Patuakhali and asked him for the money, but to no avail.

Kawser, who had already stopped looking after his family, also started having his meal at an adjacent mess.

“It was at around 7:30 am on September 24 when he called me to come out. As I was breastfeeding my son, I told him to wait for a few minutes. But he rushed into the bedroom, dragged me out and slapped me in front of other tenants of the house,” Fahima said.

Her mother Shahinoor said, “As one tenant protested the slapping, Kawser started stabbing Fahima with a knife, which he took from my room.”

At that time, Fahima’s son Mehedi Hasan Bappi was in her lap. She managed to save her son but received two stab wounds in the chest and abdomen.

“Her intestines spilled out immediately. With the help of neighbors, I rushed her to the hospital,” said her mother.

Soon after the incident, Kawser tried to escape, but the neighbours caught and tied him to a pillar of their house.

Fahima was operated upon at the hospital. She is now out of danger, doctors said.

“Local people asked us not to file any complaints with the police, saying that they would punish him through arbitration,” the victim said, adding that she also wants punishment to him.

10.6. A wife’s darkest hour:

“A wife’s darkest hour” chronicled a wife’s brutal murder at the hands of her husband for her inability to bring in the dowry which was negotiated during the marriage proposal. She was set on fire by her greedy husband. Such monstrous acts and gruesome murders are being carried out with impunity in our country.

Many Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, follow the practice of dowry. From the moment a baby girl is born, especially in a low-income family, worries start that one day a dowry demand will have to be met. Society often undermines the role of a woman. The social customs in Bangladesh are such that in the 21st century a husband consumed by greed can brutally murder his wife when her family cannot meet the dowry demand.

If girls got higher education it would make them assertive and independent. Undoubtedly getting an education will enhance women empowerment.

Will that eliminate the dowry practice?

Chapter: Eleven


11.1 Problems

  1. The practice of dowry has demeaned as the right of groom’s parents in our society. Parents of groom often explained as they spent so much on their son, for his education, for raising him that will benefit the bride. For that they demand some amount to have the son.
  2. Poverty is one of the main causes of Dowry practice. Some time bridegroom wants money to do business or want to make his life settle with that money.

iii.  Illiteracy, narrow mentality, negative attitude to the women etc are the main cause of dowry. In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then they are to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.

  1. There are thousands of cases that few offenders are actually punished. There are some laws against Dowry, but we can not apply them properly. It shows that only law is not enough to protect the women against injustice. It needs social awareness and effective measures.
  2. We should change our outlook, mentality by our Law rules. Narrow mentality of the greedy people should be changed and a hard punishment should be given to them.
  3. Women’s illiteracy, dependence on husband and living on their income are another causes of dowry. The government in Bangladesh has already taken positive steps in increasing the enrolment of girls in schools, which should decrease the practice of giving and demanding dowry

11.2. Findings

The practice of dowry has demeaned the value of a woman in our society. Most families prefer a male child either because they can capitalize on him to bring in dowry or to prevent the giving of it. To have a daughter means to lose money and material goods, but to have a son translates to gaining more. Since the world everything materially, women have come to be considered less valuable to the parents than sons.

Dowry is purely a matter of culture. No one gives Dowry willingly. It will probably be shameful for the father if he did not give anything due to perverted customs so he gives “gifts” to his daughter, which the husband greedily accepts, thinking it is given willingly.

Middle and upper class as well as better-educated grooms demand huge dowries. Often, even after the payment of a dowry, the husband or their families may demand more money or goods.

When the woman brings less than the negotiated amount, she has to endure constant torture from her in-laws after marriage. When the husband or in-laws are not satisfied with the dowry brought by the bride, they even go to the extent of killing the woman after marriage. The most severe among all the dowry abuse is “bride burning”. The parties engaged in the murder usually report the case as an accident or suicide.

Numerous women are undergoing harassment and physical abuse, compelling some of them either to commit suicide or ruthlessly be killed by their husbands and/or in-laws who lust for dowry.

At present our Government is aware about it. Now we have a law that who will give dowry and take dowry— all will be known as a criminal. So if we stop giving dowry then I think that this system will be end soon.

Chapter: Twelve


Formation of Women’s Organization

Women’s organizations should come forward to help and reinstate victims of unhappy marriages especially where dowry is the prime cause for harassment.  This will prevent the helpless brides from taking their own lives, as well as, give courage to families who feel that divorce is a social stigma.[

Creating Public Opinion through Education

The co-operation of the people can be sought only by creating public opinion.  A single man may not be controlled by the law but when a large number of people are penalized, the law is in the stronger position.  The success of all social legislation depends upon the support of the general public.  Or; it may be said that social understanding is the first requisite to solve the problem.  And this social understanding may be created by bringing the evils of dowry to the notice of the people through moral as well as formal education.  No doubt, there are cases in which it is found that educated people demand more dowries.  Education, instead of mitigating the evil has worsened it to a scandalous proportion.

Establishment of Separate Courts;

To deal with the case of dowry and bride – burning, separate courts may be established.  These would contribute to the speedy and efficient disposal of dowry death cases. It will lead to the promotion of “trends”. “If the judge is acquittal – minded about such cases, all offenders in such cases may get off lightly.  If he is, on the other hand, in favor of exemplary punishment, the fate of the accused would be sealed.  It is therefore, necessary that a large number of judges should deal with such cases.

Law enforcing agency(LEA):

Law enforcing agency  is generally regarded as corrupt in the country which results in the fact that the deprived women don’t get the legal right already stipulated in laws of the country

Women’s Awareness

Women should be more aware of their legal rights as Sachidananda Sinha have observed that even after several decades of the introduction to of social legislation, very few women know the legal rights and are unable to enumerate provisions incorporated in these nights.  Hence there is more need for the voluntary organizations from grass-root level to upper most strata of society. They can play the role of “pressure group” and information agencies to mobilize Government, administrators and society to raise voice against violence to women.

Economic condition:

Bangladesh is a country of poverty. Most of the people live under poverty line. This is one of the reason of non payment of dower and demand of dowry by the husband. For insolvency people not only commit the crime of dowry but commit other crimes also

Mass Media

The roles of the main mass media is also very significant, they play a vital role in mobilizing public – opinion against social evils. “A sustained campaign should be conducted through the communication media such as Radio, Television, and Newspapers to arouse the consciousness of the public against the dowry system and help eradicate this social evil

  • There are thousands of cases that few offenders are actually punished. It shows that only law is not enough to protect the women against injustice. It needs social awareness and effective measures.
  • The registration of marriage should be made compulsory. And it should be compulsory to paid Mahr at the time of marriage by groom.
  • Though every parent realizes that dowry is a social evil and need be curbed, but neither the parents are in a position to ex pose that they given dowry for they would not like to be disgraced in public but also held guilty under the Dowry Prohibition Act. This attitude should change.
  • Government servants who either demand or receive dowry should be subject to strict disciplinary action.
  • Weddings should be solemnized in a simple manner, so that the parents do not have to feel the financial pinch.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act should be enforced strictly – its many loopholes should be corrected. Dowry offenders should be publicly exposed and punished in the form of imprisonment of fines.
  • The women and their parents should refuse the men who want dowry. Men and women should promise against the dowry system. People who practice dowry system should be socially boycotted.
  • We should create a movement and strong public opinion against the dowry system. The movement should spread to villages and every nook and corner of the country. Government and NGOs should be involved in the movement against the course.
  • Government should take program to available the legal services and ensure victims security.
  • Now we have a law that who will give dowry and take dowry— all will be known as a criminal. So if we stop giving dowry then I think that this system will be end soon.


It is common to see people rejoicing over the birth of a son and lamenting over the birth of daughter. In Bangladesh, the reason why people prefer male children over female children is mainly due to cultural practices such as dowry.

  • Poverty, illiteracy, narrow mentality, negative attitude to the women, dependence on husband and living on their income, social corruption etc are the main cause of dowry. Some time bridegroom wants money to do business or want to make his life settle with that money. In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then they are to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.
  • Dowry-related violence is in part caused by a misplaced get rich quick mentality whereby dowries are seen as the perfect instrument for upward material mobility. Middle and upper class as well as better-educated grooms demand huge dowries. Often, even after the payment of a dowry, the husband or their families may demand more money or goods.
  • When the woman brings less than the negotiated amount, she has to endure constant torture from her in-laws after marriage. When the husband or in-laws are not satisfied with the dowry brought by the bride, they even go to the extent of killing the woman after marriage. The most severe among all the dowry abuse is “bride burning”. The parties engaged in the murder usually report the case as an accident or suicide.
  • No doubt, the laws remain stringent. But a dowry death is a relatively easier crime than murder to prosecute and so the crime continuous. Due to several factors, most go unreported.
  • In the court, a majority of the victims belongs to the under privileged classes and they have hardly any means to fight out the lengthy legal battles. While court appearances and seeking police protection in all these types of torture and violence by husbands appear to be a traumatic experience, most women prefer to sweep their experience under the carpet.

It is true that a social problem like dowry cannot act, as legal measures along cannot curb dowry problems. What is needed is a change of attitude of society towards girls and boys. They must be treated and be educated equally. Laws are also needed to be stringently implemented. The public voluntary organization and the society as a whole should have to rise against age old evil practice and make an effort to curb this menace.