Research Paper Dowry System Sociology Essay Example
Research Paper Dowry System Sociology Essay Example

Research Paper Dowry System Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2294 words)
  • Published: July 29, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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In modern society, media is an ever-present element in our daily lives. It encompasses a wide range of channels including newspapers, radio, books, television, movies, the Internet, and other forms of media. These sources can be classified into two primary types: informational media and entertainment media.

India's media landscape comprises popular and news media, offering a comprehensive understanding of different aspects of Indian life like love affairs, traditions, and daily experiences. Although similar in some ways, these two forms of media play distinct societal roles. Popular media captivates audiences with entertaining portrayals of real-life stories, while news media provides impartial factual information without personal opinions or biases.

Popular media reaches a wider audience, including both literate and illiterate individuals, while intelligent media is limited to the literate and affluent. This distinction can be significa


nt in specific situations. Both forms of media reflect society by drawing from the experiences and stories of people within the community. Generally, these two types align in their portrayal and depiction of society, with exceptions such as the representation of the dowery system in present-day India.

Both popular and intelligence media previously portrayed the facets of the dowry system in Indian society extensively and similarly. However, popular media has since deviated from this portrayal, while intelligence media continues to reflect the system accurately. As a result, an ideological difference has emerged between the two types of media. The persistent issue of the dowry system is still present and accurately reflected by intelligence media. Nonetheless, with popular media no longer reflecting society accurately, a majority of people may perceive their actions as acceptable within the system. This can perpetuate the presence of the dowry syste

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in Indian families' everyday lives. The dowry system in India is a cultural practice where the bride's parents offer a significant amount of money, expensive jewelry, and other gifts like cars or household items to the groom's parents during marriage (Borah 2).

Traditionally, the constitution of this system served multiple purposes. Firstly, it was a symbol of the bride's heritage, as all the household belongings were inherited by men. Secondly, it was intended to provide security for the bride in case any misfortune occurred in her husband's household. Furthermore, it was a way of honoring the groom for his willingness to marry the bride, and the gifts given could range from valuable items to even a small token of good wishes (Borah 2). However, the desire for dowry has impacted almost every ordinary family in India.

In contemporary times, dowry has become an implicit requirement in marriages regardless of social class. The impact of mass media has elevated dowry gifts to a significant transfer of wealth, making it a crucial element of marriage. The consequences of the dowry system on society are profound and far-reaching. This system devalues women by treating them as commodities and means for financial gain. Even if the dowry is fulfilled, brides often suffer mental and physical abuse from their in-laws who persistently demand more dowry (Chirmade 1992). This torment frequently leads to the bride resorting to suicide or falling victim to murder.

Despite the challenges in enforcing laws against dowry and the demands of the groom's family, its persistence in India is also attributed to the tolerance of it by the bride's family. Dowry, despite being recognized for its negative consequences and

issues, continues to be viewed as a means to ensure happiness for the bride (Stone and James, 1995). Many families believe that offering a substantial dowry will result in better treatment of their daughter by the groom's family. Consequently, this has worsened the problem as dowry expectations have escalated, making marriage contingent on whether or not the bride's family can meet these requirements.

In 1980, a survey showed that despite students' negative perception of the dowry system and its irrelevance to marriage, many respondents' brothers still participated in giving or receiving dowries for their sisters' weddings (Rao and Rao, 1980). The required amount of dowry varies based on the family's social status, wealth, and the educational qualifications of both the bride and groom. There is a direct relationship between a man's education and status and the demanded dowry; as the groom's educational level increases, so does the required amount of dowry. Despite being prohibited by Indian Civil Law since 1961, as well as under sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), payment of dowries continues.

Although attempts have been made to tackle the problem, the tradition of dowry in Indian society remains an ongoing threat. Legislation was implemented to empower women to seek justice for mistreatment from their spouse's family. However, these laws have only provided limited support to brides who still endure abuse from their in-laws. The media consistently highlights such instances, demonstrating its ability to influence public opinion and alter viewpoints.

In the terminal, it is important to remember that all media reflects society. The media showcases stories and movies that are influenced by current or real-life situations, except for fantasy fiction. This

was clearly shown when the media portrayed the dowry system, vividly depicting the suffering experienced by Indian women who were affected by this harsh tradition.

Both the occurrence of dowry-related homicides and the efforts made by women's organizations to raise awareness have received extensive coverage from popular and news media. The active participation of women's organizations during the late 1970s and 1980s led news outlets to pay significant attention to these cases. These organizations played a crucial role in increasing public knowledge about dowry-related incidents and ensuring media coverage. A study conducted from 1979 to 1984 showed that national newspaper coverage of such incidents significantly improved thanks to the efforts of women's organizations. However, regional newspapers did not experience any change in their level of coverage during this period.

There have been several cases of violence against women in India. In 1979, Tarvinder Kaur was set on fire by her mother-in-law and sister-in-law for not providing enough dowry. Another tragic incident occurred in 1986 when Tripti Sharma died from burn injuries caused by her husband and his family. However, there are also recent cases like Nisha Sharma's that offer hope.

On her wedding day in May 2003, she went to the police and reported her fiance for demanding a higher dowry. This incident serves as an illustration of how women should respond to dowry abuse. Nisha stood strong against the demands of her future husband's family and chose not to tolerate it. These instances from the media mirror the situation in India at that time, which was similar to a case depicted in the 1992 film 'City of Joy', about a family with excessive dowry requests.

In the film,

"City of Joy," the groom's father expresses his desire for his son to receive a bike, 1000 rupees, and one ounce of gold, stating "I am house in necessitating for my exceeding boy." However, the bride's father questions the worthiness of such demands, saying "The kid of a male monarch might be deserving that, and I'm non even certain of that!"

An additional film in 2001, "Lajja," depicts the negative impact of the dowry system and its burden on the bride's family. The protagonist, Maithili (Mahima Chaudhary), is about to marry a wealthy man from a high-status family. Maithili's parents give away all their possessions, including land and savings, as part of the dowry. Despite borrowing money from friends, they still fail to gather the full amount. Desperate, Maithili asks her fiance to convince his father to accept what they have, but he refuses out of fear. Witnessing her father beg in front of the groom's father, Maithili rebels and cancels the wedding.

She could not bear to witness her father being humiliated in such a manner by the groom's father. Both of these movies depicted the struggle the bride's family goes through to gather the dowry for the groom's family, creating a significant burden on them. This portrayal of the dowry system in popular media coincided with its reflection in the news media, but as time progressed, this alignment gradually disappeared. The movie 'Lajja' was the final film to accurately depict the suffering caused by the dowry system.

Despite acknowledging the existence of dowry in the 2006 film 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai', it did not depict the consequences associated with it. However, popular media has failed to

portray instances of dowry-related abuse or murder since then. This would have been acceptable if society had progressed to eliminate such crimes, but news media continued to report on incidents related to dowry. Headlines like 'Number of dowry cases goes up' (The Hindu, January 2008), 'Dowry death after love marriage' (The Times of India, April 2008), and 'Harassed for dowry, teacher ends life' (The Indian Express, November 2007) demonstrate how the persistence of the dowry system and its effects are evident in contemporary Indian society. Dowry is still prevalent among both illiterate individuals and educated elites living in major cities.

Despite the ban on dowry in India, the number of dowry-related crimes has been increasing over the past decade. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 8,391 reported dowry deaths in 2010 alone, which means a bride is killed every 90 minutes due to dowry reasons. In 1988, there were 2,209 reported deaths and by 1990 it rose to 4,835. In 2000, it reached 6,995 and by 2007 it skyrocketed to an astonishingly high figure of 8,093 (Bedi-2012). Government records show that Delhi reports several hundred dowry deaths annually while women's rights groups estimate around 900 per year. These numbers are significantly higher than those from the '90s which averaged about300 per year (Bedi-2012). It's important to note that these official records are likely under-reported.

Approximately 90% of cases involving adult females being burned are labeled as accidents, suggesting unintentional incidents. However, about 5% of these cases are reported as self-destructions, indicating deliberate harm inflicted by some women upon themselves. The remaining 5% of cases are classified as slayings, revealing a disturbingly high number of

intentional killings. These statistics highlight the alarming rise in dowry-related offenses and deaths in India, which can be attributed to the ongoing commodification of marriages within modern Indian society.

The increase in these incidents can be traced back to economic liberalization since 1990, resulting in heightened greed and causing future in-laws to view brides as potential sources of financial gain. As former Justice Markandey Katju wisely observed: "On one hand, people regard women as goddesses, and on the other hand, they burn them alive." This starkly contradicts the principles of a civilized society.

In response to a husband's appeal, Bedi (2012) stated that the dowry system is considered barbaric. The impact of this system is extensive and affects even unborn children, as economically disadvantaged parents resort to female feticide and infanticide in order to avoid the burden of saving up for their daughter's dowry (Krishnamurthy, 1981).

The film 'Matrubhoomi' portrays the impact of commercialized marriage and female infanticide in a society with a reversed dowry system. The movie depicts a society where there are no adult females due to rampant female infanticide. The desperate men are willing to pay large amounts to obtain a wife for themselves or their sons. In the movie, the head of the family finds Kalki and purchases her from her father for five hundred thousand rupees and five cattle. He then marries her to all five of his sons. Kalki becomes a source of money for her father and a object of desire for her husbands (Matrubhoomi). Currently, there are popular advertisements in rural villages that state, "Spend 500 rupees today, save 5000 rupees later." This refers to the cost of abortion compared

to the dowry they may have to give.

India's skewed sex ratio of 933 girls for every 1,000 boys is primarily due to encouraging households to have an abortion, particularly when the child is a girl. This practice aims to avoid the burden of paying dowry for her future marriage. The problems caused by the dowry system have been consistently increasing in the last decade; however, these issues have not received sufficient coverage from the mainstream media.

The news media and popular media have approached recent updates differently. While the news media has closely followed and analyzed these updates, popular media has taken its own direction. Due to its larger audience, popular media's portrayal of society often distorts the reality of what is happening in the world. This misrepresentation leads to an inaccurate view where societal actions are not considered wrong. Moreover, since popular media reaches a wider international audience compared to news media, people from other countries perceive India in a completely different way. They see a world where the dowry system does not exist and poses no problems. Consequently, this presents an untrue depiction of Indian society to outsiders who later discover the shocking truth when they visit India. It is crucial for India to urgently change its attitude towards the dowry system. Simply put, dowry refers to when a family pays a man to marry their daughter while the man and his family try to maximize the price obtained from the woman's family.

This association of economic addition with adult females in matrimony has been persistent in India, and it is crucial to put an end to it. Merely implementing anti-dowry laws has proven to

be ineffective. The society needs to acknowledge their mistakes and realize their wrongdoing, which can only happen if popular media continues to depict society accurately. India must unite to break this cycle. As a result, couples could contribute their finances towards providing education for their daughters instead of saving money for years and years for dowry.

If the dowry system in India continues for many more years, Indian society's claim to be progressive can be considered dishonest.

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