Yet implementation of laws to protest dowry at local level
The system of giving and taking dowry is a social stigma in this patriarchal society. Dowry is considered, as an illegal act and giving and taking dowry are penalized. Even though it is in practice in rural and urban areas in different way. To prevent the dowry system and to eliminate it from the society the Government already adopted significant laws. Government of Bangladesh has passed Dowry Prohibition Act Repression of Violence Against Women and Children Act 2000. Unfortunately, there is very little or no implementation of laws exists at local level.
Very recently the Participatory Trinomool Advocacy Centre of MMC organized a consultation meeting at Boktarpur Union in Naogaon district. The center chairperson Mr. Golam Rabbani presented at the meeting as chief guest and around 50 people from the grass root community participated at the discussion where they discussed various aspects of dowry provision that is hampering the sound and healthy existence of local people in the village.
Dowry refers to a marriage practice in our society where gifts of cash or other valuable items are exchanged between the families of the bride & groom. Dowry is paid in the form of cash, furnitures, jewllary, property etc and it is paid before or during the marriage ceremony, sometime after marriage. But delaed payment of dowry raise the problem of abuse against the women.
The participants opined that the custom of giving Dowry has changed and it is now more essential part in good marriage and has taken a harmful form. They also cited many examples of dowry related victimization. Sitara Begum (30), Fajila Khatun- pregnant wife of Maniruzzaman who resides in the village, Parul (26), Doli Bibi (22) and Bijli rani (22)- all are some few examples who had to go through the agony of dowry and suffered a lot. This is a social practice carried out both in urban and rural areas in different manner according to the expectation and demands. Like other neighboring countries Bangladesh is also facing the violence related to dowry. Along with the time dowry is becoming a practice from custom.
The advocacy center already is working together with the villagers to fight dowry problem and the steps they are taking against dowry are:
* Creating awareness
* Educating women about the legal right
* Providing legal assistance
* Empowering women
* Campagin against dowry
The simple gesture of jamai ador or special affection shown to the bridegroom has been transformed to the shape of daabi or demand by the bridegrooms. Local UP chairman Shahid Hasan said that even poor men are taking this chance of exploiting the bride's family to improve their fate from poverty and unemployment. This is making marriage a commercial transaction, giving more value to property and money than the bride herself.
As the roots of the problem of dowry appear to be social, remedies can only be achieved by changes of attitude in society; this can be attempted by legislation, but will need to be supported by education and legal awareness. The parents of a bride should understand that by giving dowry they may not be giving their daughter any happiness; it has been claimed that it is only increasing her misfortune. Finally the participants agreed that the parents of the bride are not in fact giving the dowry to their daughter but to their son-in-law and his family; this increases greed for more dowry. Parents should rather safeguard their daughters from economic deprivation and violence by educating them about their rights within marriage as the dower right.
Bishwajit Moni,an activist working for Mass Line Media Centre (MMC).