By Noreen Akhtar
Someone has spoken my heart out by saying that ‘dowry is a cancer for the society. Eradicate this cultural cancer. Be bold and say no to dowry.”
One of the many weaknesses in our society is that people admire others a lot in terms of money and status; it doesn’t matter if that status is fake. There are still some people who are so much into gaining superior social status that they can do anything to obtain the status of their dreams.
If I specifically talk about Hunza, because I don’t know much about other regions of Gilgit-Baltistan, then the system of dowry is one of the examples of social customs that force our parents even to sell their hard-earned livelihood and property to marry their daughters. This article is based more on my own such bitter experiences.
The first reason because of which this stupid trend is still thriving in our society is that our people are much more conscious about their social status. The common pattern of thinking is, ‘what will our neighbors say if our daughter leaves our home with less dowry? What will be the impression on the family of groom? My relatives spend this much money on their daughter so why can’t I? And the list goes on and on….
They are not even trying to think about the reality that their daughter becomes more like a showcase, an entity, with all the jewelries and other expensive stuff. Her value as a human increases not because she herself has a personality but, instead, because she has dowry. I have heard about such parents who though don’t have money to educate their kids but make money by even selling their property to be able to marry their daughters.
The second cause is that dowry is not only dominant among parents but also among some boys and girls. Some girls are so much obsessed with getting dowry that the more they see utensils, craft work and other things to embellish their new home, the more they become satisfied. Moreover, there are some guys out there who are happy with this norm because they get their wife with such a huge property.
Where is the reality in our lives? Where does logic lie? NOWHERE!!!
Let’s talk about why our people think in this way and what we can do to eradicate this evil tradition.
The first cause is that parents become worried about their daughters that without dowry they won’t be accepted by the groom’s family. This is because there are some families out there who do the same. They value dowry more than a girl. The root cause of this problem is that parents usually don’t let their children to make their own future while polishing their own skills. It’s not about education only. It can be any other field as well. If a girl is not educated then she becomes a burden on her family and parents become obsessed with her dowry because they think that she is not educated so dowry can at least save her future.
Some parents need to keep their children independent so that they could join the field of their own interest and have an independent future. If a girl will have a stable life, she won’t be dependent on her husband and same is true for men. Their independent future will not let them to marry a dependent girl or a dependent boy which in return results in to dowry system.
Secondly, though this has been implemented somehow but it wasn’t successful. Councils issued letters and alarmed people that they will take fines from the ones who will spend more on their daughter’s marriage. But this has not been very successful. The reason being the fact that those who can spend more on the marriage of their children can also pay fines also but won’t stop following this custom. Some people say that if one can spend money, then it is fine with that family. But, it’s actually not fine because others who can’t afford try to do the same.
We can have two options. These laws should be equal for all (poor and rich) and rich families should stop thinking that if they can spend then they should spend whatever amount they have. Secondly, people should stop admiring others in this case and also not torture others that they couldn’t even give dowry to their daughters.
Thirdly, both girls and guys should have this sense that they can contribute equally to buy the items of their need and they can start saving money after they are engaged and/or married. Or, if one of them is not that much able to contribute then still they can manage with one’s contribution. It also happens that both can’t contribute on the spot so of course their parents and family members are there to help them but they shouldn’t show this contribution in the shape of dowry.
What we need to concentrate on is that education is the best way parents can ever help their kids to develop an independent and peaceful life. Moreover, respecting the talent of children and let them boost it is another gift.
I request all the parents, girls and boys to please don’t ever think that girls are valuable because of dowry. Let’s think that we all can be independent and have a better future ahead. Let’s reject such useless and cancerous customs from our society which takes away value of a girl and which enforces our parents to think that their daughters are dependent. Guys! Accept girls without any condition of dowry and Girls! Be bold to not give dowry and help your parents to understand the reality (y).