The Dowry Prohibition Act-2017
The Cabinet has approved in principle the draft of "The Dowry Prohibition Act-2017". It incorporates the earlier Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 and subsequent amendments. The Act lays down 14 years' rigorous imprisonment along with fines for any individual or individuals who incite any girl to commit suicide over dowry. It has a provision also for a life-term of 12 years for hurting a woman over dowry. That the government has taken cognisance of the fact that dowry is a serious social malady that needs to be tackled with legislation is welcome.
However, as pointed out by legal minds, most of what has been proposed in the new Act is already in place under different laws. But it is good that all issues have been brought under a single Act. That said, Bangladesh is a country that has ample laws on paper. It is the lack of enforcement of existing laws that have been the problem. It is our hope that those responsible for upholding the law will utilise this upcoming Act to go after the perpetrators of dowry-related violence.
The incorporation of imprisonment and financial penalty, if applied to the full extent of the law should help reduce the thousands of incidents of dowry related violence we are forced to witness every year in both rural and urban Bangladesh. The time is ripe to deliver the message that women cannot be maltreated over dowry that demanding dowry is illegal and only time will tell if the Act is being utilised as it was intended to.