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Dowry problem still exists in Bangladesh. Explain and illustrate the dowry system in Bangladesh and its prevention measure


Dowry (joutuk or English meaning demand) is a (custom) shift from the bride’s family to the groom and his family, and is not directly related to Islamic Personal law. Generally Bangladesh is a poor country. Because its poverty many problems we have to face including the social various problems. Poverty is something that creates obstacles for not only for one person or family but also for many. Dowry problem is also something started from that. Dowry is also a social problem for Bangladesh.

From the laws eyes we get that from Law Dictionary: dowry

“Money and personality which the wife brings to the husband to support the expenses of marriage; a donation to the maintenance and support of the marriage.” [1]

According to web, “While they have disappeared in Europe, dowry payments, whereby a transfer is made From the bride’s to the groom’s family, still exist in South Asia[2].Not only do they Still exist but also it has been reported that these payments have been increasing Since the 1950s.” [3]

The dowry problem still exists in Bangladesh:

The system here exists from the beginning. In this paper, we examine dowries being paid in marriages held during 1931-1996 in the Matlab region, a rural sub district in Bangladesh, using household survey data gathered in 1996. We .and that the incidence of dowry has substantially increased, especially since the 1970s. Nonetheless, we fail to .nd increasing dowry payments: in particular, the average dowry in real terms has been decreasing since the 1950s.

This social curse is very wide spread in the Bangladeshi culture. In our country there are many damaging and unpleasant social customs. This dowry is the most common one. It is something that unethical and unsocial people use it as a weapon against other family when they get agreed to be related. It is implemented after the negotiations among 2 families more specifically between the bride and grooms family.

So this dowry system has entered into our system of culture thus it is very tough to avoid now a days. A person of society and the relatives pressurizes such then it is impossible to avoid. It is like if you want to have a good bridegroom then you have to be ready to gift heavy duty dowry. That’s the rule.

Many people support this dowry by arguing that it came from ISLAM. In Islamic rules there is a term named “Dower”. It means according to Islamic encyclopedia,

Portion of a deceased husband’s real property that a widow is legally entitled to use during her lifetime to support herself and their children. A wife may claim the dower if her husband dies without a will or if she dissents from the will. At common law, dower consists of a one-third interest in all the land that the husband owned during the marriage. In many states of the United States dower rights have been abolished and other provisions, especially rights of inheritance, have been made for the widow. Where it still exists, the dower right attaches to the land as soon as it comes into the husband’s possession; for that reason it cannot be defeated by a conveyance of the land by the husband in his lifetime unless his wife joins in the deed. If the wife is the guilty party in a divorce or the marriage is annulled, the right of the wife to dower is ended. The husband’s lifetime use of his deceased wife’s property, a right that is contingent on the birth of lawful issue, is known as courtesy.” [4]

In Bangladesh people made this dowry concept from dower saying that once it will be back to bride. The money groom taken from bride it will be back to groom again. It means that, the bride’s family is indirectly giving the money to the bride for her happiness. The thing indirectly is groom is threading indirectly that if you are not going to provide me money then the bride will be in trouble.

According to the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia dowry system means,

Money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage. The dowry has a long history in Europe, South Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world. Some of its basic functions are to protect the wife against ill treatment by her husband, since a dowry can be a conditional gift; to help the husband discharge the responsibilities of marriage, since the dowry makes it possible for the young man to establish a household; to provide the wife with support in case of her husband’s death; and to compensate the groom’s kin for their payment of bride wealth. In Europe, the dowry served to build the power and wealth of great families and played a role in the politics of grand alliance through marriage. The giving of a dowry more or less disappeared in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. The practice grew, however, in South Asia. In some cases, delayed or insufficient dowry made some young wives the victims of murder by their husbands or in-laws, a practice known as “bride burning” or “dowry death.” [5]

Impacts of dowry problem in Bangladesh, Dowry deaths: Through this custom social tradition the bride has to gift a handsome amount of currency, 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. If the dowry is not applied properly than often the ultimate comes out on the bride. Sometimes it comes from the bridegroom after marriage and also from the entire family. To some families, marriage of the bridegroom is like a business. If he got married then he will get many gifts.

If it not happens or the bridegroom’s family refuses pay or not paid the desired amount then in humanistic attitude like “bride burning” occurs.

According to the web, Bride burning is a form of domestic violence practiced in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other countries located on or around the Indian subcontinent. A category of dowry death, bride-burning occurs when a young woman is murdered by her husband or his family for her family’s refusal to pay additional dowry. The wife is typically doused with kerosene, gasoline, or other flammable liquid, and set alight, leading to death by fire.” [6]

Curse to our culture and country: In my findings I found that, narrow mentality possession, negative attitude to women both from male/female, illiteracy, poverty, dependence on husband or son in later age, living on their income, social corruptions or other family practices are mainly the good reasons. Most of the cases, bridegroom

Demand cash or something luxury products like, motorcycles, cycles and now days a new addition: expensive mobile phones. Common story in villages though now its practice that, if brides are not good looking in all manners or a little late married then they have to give a lot of cash to the groom as dowry.

According to Daily Star news, “every year 1200 women receives injuries and 600 get killed by their husband and reason behind is the dowry[7]

On that situation it is the most unexpected surrounding occurs to the bride family and more specifically a kind of torture comes to the bride for not good looking. It is something the family members of bride considers as the brides bad luck whether she is that much workable or qualified on her fields or not. A kind of tremendous social and mental pressure has to suffer by the bride.

According to Yalman (1967), “dowry is .the result of a bargain and has a speci.c

intention: that of linking the daughter . hence her family . with a particularly

desirable son-in-law” [8].(jahan11988).

To arrange the marriage also to manage the bridegroom the family has to arrange a lot of money. Sometimes the poor families are to take loans, sell their lands, ornaments Furniture, cattle and even their own house to arrange the money. They had to loose even all their life achievements to the dowry systems.

Situation if grooms family fails to give money: It is the common system if groom fails to give money then are killed injured or divorced. For this cursed system the attempt of divorce, doing suicide, physical and mental torture, number of broken family are increasing day by day. It is mainly creating a bad and unhealthy environment and lesson to the next generation. In directly it is also hampering the children study therefore they can’t take a part in social development programs they can’t contribute to the economy. It hampers their mental development.

This custom tradition is very disgraceful to our country in many stages. So it is the time to remove it out from our culture and country. We have the laws against it but social awareness and disparateness to the tradition will be the good approach.

Explanations and illustrations the dowry system in Bangladesh and its prevention measure:

In the rural Bangladeshi region according to the Amin and Cain (1995) ”local usage in

our villages and elsewhere in Bangladesh does make a clear distinction: (…) [tradi-

tionally] joutuk (dowry) refers to gifts given to the groom or his family by the bride.s

family. (…) the new groom payments are referred to as demand.” [9] So that dowry goes to the groom’s family side rather than the bride’s.

Regarding this point Mr Ahmer and Naher (1987) explain “how in the case where the marriage breaks, .if she is still young and attractive, a second marriage may be arranged and a higher demand will have to be met.” [10]

Specifically in the comilla district, the reversal from the bride price (whereby the transfer is from the groom’s to the bride’s side, also called bride wealth[11]) to dowry, which has occurred since the 1950’s,as the consequences of social and economic changes. this reversal cant be attributed to a particular group religiously, as dowry has recently been practices by both Hindu’s and Muslim’s. The amount of dowry that have been given it reports increasing nominal. To our knowledge the only quantitative study of dowry in Bangladesh, Amin and Cain (1995), examine expenditure the couple of villages in northern native Bangladesh, statement and rising frequency of dowry and a increase in the real quantity of the dowry being salaried. They illustrated that while to perform the dowry between Muslims in Bangladesh is new, it was ordinary among certain high class Hindus. They do not dash any econometric experiment; they maintain that the augment is due to an increase in the entitled sex ratio (the number of eligible females to the number of eligible males) [12]

The prevention matter or recommendations: The dowry system is only prevented by the social aware nesses. If wee can make people more educated and strong position against the system then it is possible for us to remove it from our culture as well as country. We can develop such processes that may help us to prevent it. Like:

  1. Creating strong social standing against it.
  2. influencing younger generation so the realization would work
  3. awareness creation
  4. Educating mass people
  5. Implementing laws.


This was just an examination of the dowry system of rural areas of Bangladesh. Here are the profs that we presented the so called rise of dowry system in Bangladeshi area. This is mainly developed by the Muslim phenomenon and mostly it is treated as the protection or anti support of the divorce or a kind of insurance. We quarreled that the theatrical boost in dowry contribution in the area is explained by better consciousness concerning the information that by giving the groom a gift, the bride’s parents assure themselves and their daughter next to her separation or leaving behind (which would entail her revisit to the parental home, which is measured a communal dishonor) as a companion who wants to exercise one-sided separation has to repayment the dowry. This is the structure of the dowry system which developed poetry in economics literature of this system, is tested in different ways.


1. Ahmed, Rahnuma, and Milu Shamsun Naher (1987), Brides and the Demand System

in Bangladesh. A Study, Dhaka: Centre for Social Studies, Dhaka University

2. Amin, Sajeda, Family Structure and Change in Rural Bangladesh (1996), The

Population Council, Research Division, Working Paper No. 87

3. Amin, Sajeda, and Mead T. Cain (1995), The Rise of Dowry in Bangladesh, in

The Continuing Demographic Transition, ed. by Jones, Gavin. W., John C. Caldwell,

Robert M. Douglas, and Rennie M. D.Souza, Oxford: Oxford University Press

4. Bhuiya, Abbas, andMushtaque Chowdhury (1997), The E¤ect of Divorce on Child

Survival in a Rural Area of Bangladesh, Population Studies, 51 (1), p. 57-61.

5. Cain, Mead (1981), Risk and Insurance: Perspectives on Fertility and Agrarian

Change in India and Bangladesh, Population and Development Review, 7 (3), p.


6. Diamond, Peter A. (1982), Wage Determination and E¢ ciency in Search Equilib-

rium, The Review of Economic Studies, 49 (2).

7. Jafor Ullah, A. H. (2000), Rife De-Sanskritization of Names in Bangladesh, News

from Bangladesh, 31 May

8. Kamal, Sultana, Law for Muslim Women in Bangladesh, available at

9. Khan, Azizur Rahman, and Mahabub Hossain (1989), The Strategy of Develop-

ment in Bangladesh, London: Macmillan

10. Lindenbaum, Shirley (1981), Implications forWomen of ChangingMarriage Trans-

actions in Bangladesh, Studies in Family Planning, 12 (11)

11. Mabud, Mohammed A. (1985), Women.s Development, Income and Fertility in

Bangladesh, Dhaka: External Evaluation Unit, Planning Commission, Canadian In-

ternational Development Agency

12. Mostafa, G., K.M.A. Shaikh, J.K. van Ginneken and A.M. Sarder (1998), “Demo-

graphic Surveillance System-Matlab. Registration of Demographic Events”, vol 28;

International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Scienti.c Report

No. 82

13. Rahman, M(1986), Tradition, Development, And the Individual. A Study of Con-

.icts and Supports to Family Planning in Rural Bangladesh, ed. by Penny Kane and

Lado Ruzicka; Asian Population Change Series No. 1, Department Of Demography,

Australian National University, Canberra

14. Rahman, M.Omar, Jane A. Menken, Andrew Foster, Christine E. Peterson, Mo-

hammed Nizam Khan, Randall Kuhn and Paul Gertler (1999a), The 1996 Matlab

Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Overview and User.s Guide, DRU-2018/1, RAND,

Santa Monica CA

15. Rajaraman, Indira (1983), Economics of Bride-Price and Dowry, Economic and

Political Weekly, 19 February

16. Rao, Vijayendra (1993a), The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of

Dowry Increases in Rural India, Journal of Political Economy, 101

17. Rao, Vijayendra (1993b), Dowry Rural India: A Statistical Investi-

gation, Population Studies, 47 (2)

18. Rao, Vijayendra (2000), The Marriage Squeeze Interpretation of Dowry In.ation:

Response, Journal of Political Economy, 108 (6), p. 1334-5.

19. Shaikh, Kashem (1998), The Social and Demographic Correlates of Divorce in

Rural Bangladesh, Asia-Paci.c Population Journal, 13 (3)

20. Simmons, Ruth (1996), Women.s Lives in Transition: A Qualitative Analysis of

the Fertility Decline in Bangladesh, Studies in Family Planning, 27 (5), p. 251-68.

21. Yalman, N. (1967), Under the Bo Tree, University of California Press.

22. Yasmin, Lailufar (2000), Law and Order Situation and Gender-based Violence:

Bangladeshi Perspective, RCSS Policy Studies No. 16, Regional Centre for Strategic

Studies, Sri Lanka

[1] See

[2] Despite being forbidden or limited by law: Dowry Prohibition Acts were passed in 1961 in India

and 1980 in Bangladesh. In Pakistan the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Act of 1976 limits dowry payments.

[3] See

[4] See

[5] See

[6] See

[7] See http://www.prothomalo/

7 see

7.See http://www.prothomalo/

8 Jahan (1988).



[11] Goody (1973).

[12] While the convention for the sex ratio is to divide the number of males by the number of females, in this paper we follow Rao (1993a) and related literature in using females to males for the sake of comparison.


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