In traditional societies like India and the Arab world, marriage holds a reverential place in the hearts of common men and women.
Millions plan for years to materialize their dreams of getting married by saving each coin rigorously while million others fail to experience the memorable event of marriage at prime time in their life.
While in India, the joyous traditions of marriage are marred by dreadful burden of dowry to be managed by the bride; in the Arab world, the same is experienced by the side of the bridegroom.
The system of dowry may be different according to the practice of social customs but the hard truth of dowry pinches both India and the Arab World with identical anguish of unbearable adversities.
As a result of the rampant practice of dowry, women in India find it hard to get married while the same fate is endured by the bridegroom in the Arab World.
Although the offering and accepting of dowry is illegal in India, many communities still follow it across the country, with men enjoying the luxury of dowry in marriage.
However, in the Arab world, people in general are not accountable to law for either offering or accepting dowry. It is a common social practice in which women feel privileged to be offered.
The dowry demand gifts range from household goods to electronics and vehicles in India. The parents of the bride try to accommodate all such demands, whether reasonable or unreasonable, fearing if they refuse, the wedding will be called off or their daughter will be ill-treated after the wedding.
Similarly, housing, furniture and appliances, and more importantly gold, form the essential share of dowry in the Arab region.
The bridegroom is bound to manage all such possessions in advance before the hunt for bride begins. In case he fails to do so, a man has to remain a bachelor forever.
Truly speaking, dowry has ruined the lives of millions both in India and the Arab world.
In India, girls do not get married timely; at times they commit suicide or are sold off to others. The heavy burden of dowry also accounts for the spurt in cases of bride-burning.
In the Arab region, the ever-growing marriage costs are unbearable. The bridegroom finds them hard to manage.
As a result, the boy and his family are prompted to go outside the country to arrange short-term marriage or in many cases, to marry foreign wives and bring them back to the country.
This phenomenon has led to the creation of two visible challenges within the Arab society: native women with little prospect of marriage or children of mixed origin.
From time to time, the government of India has enacted legislation to extricate the Indian society from this great social evil.
In 1961, the government enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act, which was amended twice in the 1980s. It makes the act of dowry, both giving and the receiving, punishable by law.
Equally, the Arab world, particularly the UAE through a presidential decree created the United Arab Emirates’ Marriage Fund Foundation in the early 1990s.
The marriage grant fund’s goal is to enlighten the economic burden of marriage on young grooms and to encourage UAE men to marry UAE women.
Similar marriage grants also exist in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Libya by the respective governments.
Whether the burden of dowry is on the shoulder of a bride’s father in India or it is shared by the government in the Arab region, the evil practice of dowry has deeper implications on people’s lives and societies in both regions of the world.
Really, the practice of dowry reduces the sacred institution of marriage to a business like transaction.
It is time both societies make a social compact in which youths take an active role in eradicating the evil practice of dowry.
Young men and women should take a pledge that they will neither demand a dowry nor accept it. That will happen only when more and more boys and girls are educated and made economically independent.
Published: The Times of India,