Dowry leads to poverty, violence against women
Dowry, a widely practised social malaise, forces many families deeper into poverty and it is one of the main reasons behind violence against women, speakers at a national workshop said yesterday.
Education, economic empowerment of women, women's equal rights to property and social awareness can help eliminate dowry system, they added.
Unnayan Shahojogi Team (UST) organised the national workshop on dowry and poverty at the LGED auditorium in the capital and shared a recently conducted study.
The study revealed that although dowry is illegal under the law, it is a widely practised social custom. It is one of the main reasons for child marriage, domestic violence, divorce and polygamy in the country.
In rural Bangladesh, many families are forced to sell out valuable items and property or take loans with high interest rate to fulfil the dowry demands, which in many cases forces them deeper into poverty.
Dowry demands have different forms such as money, valuables, property and promise of employment.
Ranjan Karmakar, executive director of Steps Towards Development, said, "In our society, men are considered asset while women are considered a burden. As long as women remain burden in the eyes of everyone, the practice of dowry will continue."
Advocate Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain O Shalish Kendro and former adviser to the caretaker government, said, "Dowry is strongly linked to women's poverty. Poverty makes women more vulnerable. They remain dependent with an undignified status. The exchange of wealth in the form of dowry in a way turns women into a commodity."
Empowerment of women is the key to getting rid of dowry. Women can become successful in many fields if they get opportunities, she said.
Dr Badiul Alam Majumder, global vice president and country director of The Hunger Project, Dr Hamidul Haque, chairman of UST, Shah Md Anwar Kamal, executive director of UST, SM Tojammel Haque, director of UST, and Shaymol Dutt, editor of the daily Bhorer Kagaj, also spoke.