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Chapter 1: Introduction

Dowry is a social custom, which arises from the pervasive greed. It is prevailing in both rural and
urban sectors and among non-affluent influent section of the people of the Bangladesh. Around
fifty percent of the violence against women in Bangladesh are happening due to the dowry system.
The author suggested that action plan with proper implementation is necessary for legal and social
measures to fight against dowry system. He also further argued that with a combined effort and
launching a social movement against dowry may help to achieve a goal-oriented development
process for which society should consider dowry activity as a criminal act. Dowry is the property
that a woman brings to. Her husband at the time of the marriage. It has been a well-established
institution among the propertied classes of various lands and times, e.g., in ancient Greece and
Rome, India, medieval Europe, and modern continental countries. In civil-law countries the dowry
is an important form of property. Dowry system has socio-economic impact of the country. It is
one of the worst social systems, which creates discrimination for females by virtue of their birth
in this sub-continent especially in the country. Under the dowry system females are treated as a
commercial product and they are measured as ordinary goods. This inhuman practice makes the
society as unbearable situation. Greed for dowry is very much pervasive. Though currently cruelty
of dowry system increases, but its root was originated in the society from the ancient society when
non-Aryans started this practice in this sub-continent. In this sub-continent though dowry system
is acquitted in India but in Bangladesh it is widening. It is increased at a higher rate after the
independence. Lot of bridegroom studied at the expenses of father in laws in the British period.
Pakistani era and also in, the current age. "GHOR JAMAl" system was very popular among the
Muslim society. At the expenses of father in law many people were able to establish in the society.
Dowry is not only prevailing in the rural areas, but also prevailing in the urban areas. People of all
religions of this country are more or less affected by this illicit practice. The situation of women
in Bangladesh is still deplorable and establishment of human rights of the women in the country
is far from reality. When the world is becoming a global village, and gender equality was prevailing
both in the developed and developing countries, a large number of women in Bangladesh were
being tortured due to dowry by their spouses/members of in laws houses.

1.1 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the impact of dowry system scenario in
Bangladesh. The specific objective of the study are as follows:
1. To know the meaning, origins and development of dowry;
2. To investigate the present scenario of dowry system in Bangladesh;
3. To identify the sources of dowry system in the study area;
4. To investigate the causes of dowry system in the study area;
5. To draw some policy suggestions to reduce the dowry system in the sociology.

1.2 Methodology of the Study

This assignment is based on survey questionnaire and secondary information. For the purpose of
getting better result simple random sampling technique during the survey of this assignment was
adopted where general people (including some of the victims of dowry system) were given the
copies of the questionnaire and were asked to fill them. Moreover, some secondary data was also
collected for completion of the report.

Data Collection Technique

Sources of data of this Study can be divided into two categories:

Primary Sources
 Face-to-Face conversation with the respective general people by using questionnaire
 Taking their responses, advices, and opinions
Secondary Sources
 Websites, Relevant Books, Research Papers, and Journals.

1.3 Research Design

In this research, we are going to find out the causes, and impacts of dowry systems in Bangladesh
through survey method as well as secondary sources. This would be a quantitative study. The study
is descriptive in nature. Both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques were used to describe
the study variables. By descriptive analysis, the specific details of a situation, as well as the

accurate background profile of the subject was presented. By statistical analysis, the specific
relation among various variables was presented. So, it is pioneering and explanatory in nature and
the survey design was used to conduct the study.

1.4 Sampling

The respondents of our survey will be selected by simple random probability. Out of the vast
population, 50 of them are selected.

1.5 Scope of the study

The scope of the study is limited to dowry system in Bangladesh, and implication of dowry on the
women of Bangladesh, it has still to go a long way to achieve its destination by completely erase
this problem from our society. The report will mainly focus on the problems is facing by the
victims of dowry problem in our country and how to deal with this social darkness by taking proper

1.6 Limitation of the Study

The assignment was basically based on interpreting primary data. But, major of the information
are taken from secondary sources because lack of sufficient research knowledge to complete the
research works properly. We won’t say that our study and the decisions we made are self-
sufficient. That doesn’t mean that there was no dearth of professionalism and eagerness to reach
to the solution, rather it means that we had to face some obstacles. Those were as follows:

 Respondents were sometimes reluctant to fill the questionnaire and they weren’t interested
to express their honest opinion, which has impeded the preparation of the report.
 In this study, primary data have been recorded about a few numbers of people because of
time limitation, it was difficult to demonstrate the opinion of mass people.
 In many cases, up to date information is not published. Getting Relevant papers and
documents were difficult.
 The study has been limited within the Sylhet District of Bangladesh.
 This is our second comprehensive study; as a result, we had not been much experience
about social research. There have very short time and have money problem

Chapter 2: Review of Literature
Several studies have been done to focus on the issue of dowry system in the country context and
in the perspective of other countries. The most of these studies focused on the nature, sources and
causes of dowry system.
Farouk (1980) argued that women’s unemployment problem in the rural areas can be overcome
through :(a) remove illiteracy in the rural areas; (b) introduce a high yielding but labor intensive
technology in the rural economy and (c) remove the limitation of women in doing out-door work
in the rural areas. Naved (1994) found that dowry was a major factor driving decisions' regarding
education of girl children. To some extent it also defines involvement in savings and credit and
income generating activities. Rao (1993) described that dowries of Bangladesh have steadily risen
over the last forty years and now often amount to over 50 percent of a household's assets .He
observed that a 'marriage squeeze' caused by population growth, resulting in larger younger cohorts
and hence a surplus of women in the marriage market, has played a significant role in the rise in
dowries. Chowdhury (2001) argued that a society is culture generally consists of two types of
values .the core and the peripheral values. Core values are time honored values that remain
relatively resistant to change. Peripheral values are those, which are either imposed, imitated or
artificially created ones or are practiced in response to the exigency of the period and are amenable
to change. In the article "Traditional Values Prevail as Education and Contraception Enter Rural
Bangladesh"(l997),it was argued that in Bangladesh and many other South Asian countries, dowry
cash or valuables given by a prospective bride's family to her betrothed-has supplanted bride price,
which a man presents to his fiancé’s family. Amin and other social scientists attribute this to a
"marriage squeezes’ mismatch in number between marriageable men and women. By custom,
Bangladeshi teenaged girls marry men in their twenties. Since infant mortality has steadily
declined, younger girls outnumber older men, and parents cope with the competition in the
marriage market by offering dowries. The rise in dowry payments in Bangladesh has been taken
as evidence that women increasingly are at disadvantage on the marriage market and must pay for
marriage. Moreover, high dowries, it is argued, add to the plight of parents of daughters and have
thus contributed to the scarcity of women (brides). (Edlund,2006) The notion of dowry as a pre-
mortem inheritance which is also propounded by Goody is challenged by Madam, who prefers to
regard it instead as a 'substitute for women's lack of rights of inheritance equivalent to those of

men'. (Goody, 1973) Social anthropologists have often talked about it in ethnographies focused
primarily on other subjects, but their reasoning has usually been limited to explaining it away as a
consequence of ' Sanskritization ‘. This is a term used by Srinivas to explain the adoption of upper-
caste patterns of behavior by members of lower castes as a means of acquiring higher social status.
Since dowries have traditionally been the common marriage transaction of the highest (Brahmin)
caste, Sanskritization explains the observed shift in regime from bride price to dowry in all the
other castes as upwardly mobile imitative behavior. Evidence suggests that the custom of giving
dowry has traditionally been more prevalent in north than in south India, and in the latter region,
more commonly found among Brahmans than others (Miller, I980). Arranged marriages
characterize the Indian marriage system; parents of a daughter are often willing to provide a good
dowry to secure a suitable husband for her, partly to avoid the prospect of the daughter's long-term
dependence on the parents (Krishnaswamy, 1995). Muslims and members of lower status tribes,
for example, are less likely than others to support the dowry. These differences do not portend
social change unless the proportions of the population in these categories are increasing, which is
not the case. (Srinivasan, 2004). Quarrels over the dowry give rise to what newspapers portray as
"dowry murders," where wives are flamed alive by their husband's ancestors. Thus, "dowry"
aggression does not pass on directly to marriage-related expenditures made at the time of the
nuptials, but to supplementary payments demanded after the marriage by the groom's family where
the husband steadily abuses the wife in order to extort larger transfers. (Bloch, 2002). Torturing
women where dowry demand is unsatisfied contributes to 66.7 per cent of violent acts against
women and 50 per cent of all murders of women in Bangladesh (Monsoor, 1999).

Chapter 3: The Concept of Dowry System
A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. Dowry
contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is
a payment by the groom or his family to the bride's parents, dowry is the wealth transferred from
the bride's family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride. Similarly, dower is the
property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the time of marriage, and which remains
under her ownership and control. Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate
records of it. Dowries continue to be expected, and demanded as a condition to accept a marriage
proposal, in some parts of the world, mainly in parts of Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. In
some parts of the world, disputes related to dowry sometimes result in acts of violence against
women, including killings and acid attacks. The custom of dowry is most common in cultures that
are strongly patrilineal and that expect women to reside with or near their husband's family
(patrilocality). Dowries have a long history in Europe, South Asia, Africa and other parts of the

3.1 Dowry in Historical Aspects

In ancient times, a dowry was given to the groom and his family in exchange for the bride as a
way of ensuring that she is properly taken care of and comfortable. In those times, it was also
expected that the bride would leave her family home to reside with or near her new husband's
family. This gift would serve to provide a bit of financial security in the case of widowhood, and
was thought to eventually provide for the couple's future children as well.
A dowry could also be considered a conditional offering that would be expected to be returned in
the case of divorce, abuse, or another mistreatment of the bride. In modern time periods, the dowry
is intended to help set up the couple's new household, especially in cultures where it is rare for a
woman to work outside the home.
In the case of the bride's passing, things could get a little hairy. If a woman died without having
any sons, her husband would have to return the dowry to the bride's family, deducting the value of
the bride price. The bride is also entitled to her entire dowry after her husband's death, and the
dowry is only inheritable by her own children.

3.2 Religious perspective of dowry
 The mahr (dowry) is something that is paid by the man to his wife
 It is paid to the wife and to her only as an honor and a respect given to her and to show
that he has a serious desire to marry her.
 It is must thing to agree upon at the time of the marriage contract.
 Taking money or gifts from the bride´s family is strictly prohibited.


 Dowry (Dahej/Hunda) is paid in cash or kind by the bride's family to the groom' s family
along with the giving away of the bride (Kanya-dana)
 •The ritual of Kanya-dana is an essential aspect in Hindu marital rites: Kanya = daughter,
dana = gift
 A reason for the origin of dowry could perhaps be that the groom and his family had to
take up the 'onerous' responsibility of supporting the bride for the rest of her life


• Dowry is widely practiced by Christians, though among the Christians of some regions it
is not so widespread

• It is a fine method of setting up an establishment for the newlyweds

• Since the bride’s parents are quite choosy about the groom, he should get a price

• A girl who brings a respectable dowry feels confident while a girl without dowry feels

• Dowry is nothing but the share due to their daughter

Chapter 4: Dowry System in Bangladesh
The original custom in Bangladesh was the bride price, called pawn, where the groom's family
makes a payment to the bride's parents. This has gradually been replaced by the dowry, called
joutuk. This transition in customs began in the 1960s. By the early 21st century, the brideprice has
been supplanted by the dowry. Joutuk, sometimes spelled Joutukh, like elsewhere in South Asia,
is a serious and growing problem in Bangladesh. Between 0.6 to 2.8 brides per year per 100,000
women are reported to die because of dowry-related violence.
Bangladesh has seen a rise in the expected size of dowries in recent decades, as its middle class
has grown, and there has been an accompanying rise in the rate of "dowry deaths". In Bangladesh,
dowry killings are more frequently done by stabbing or poison rather than burning. Dowry
extortion is also a problem in Bangladesh. From January to October 2009, more than 3,413
complaints were made to the police in Bangladesh concerning beatings and other abuses related to
dowries. One of the methods used by families who are unhappy with dowry includes acid throwing,
in which concentrated acid is thrown on the bride's face to cause disfiguration and social isolation.
From 1995-1998, 15 women reported dowry disputes as the motivation behind acid attacks, though
that number may be low due to under reporting.
Bangladesh is a development country. In this country there are many kinds of unpleasant customs.
Dowry is the most common unpleasant custom of those. It creates many problems. It is against the
success of our country. It is a much unexpected situation for the bride's family members. They are
to collect a huge amount of money for their daughters or sister’s marriage. Sometime they are to
take loan, sell their lands, furniture, ornaments and even their own house to collect the money.
They are to lose many things and face many problems for this dowry system. There are numerous
evidences that the practice of dowry can have consequences that can be harmful and sometimes
lethal for women.

4.1 Causes of Dowry:
 Unemployment and Poverty: Poverty is the main causes behind dowry because most
of the people in Bangladeshi are poor. They often take dowry to reduce their Poverty.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely-populated nations in the world, some 35 million
people struggle to survive at the lowest limit of poverty. In most cases, money Paid on
dowries is the main cause for people's misery. Although this is not legally accepted,
payments to future relatives are still a common practice in the country, especially in rural
regions. Poverty and rising unemployment among young male in rural areas in Bangladesh
have a close relation with the institution of dowry. Marriage and dowry are seen as a source
of learning for them. At one time, parents would want a son to becoming an earning
member of the family, but, as now the possibilities of securing a job being reduced in a
competitive job market, they consider the taking of dowry through marriage as the only
source of their possible income.
 Illiteracy: Because of the Illiteracy, most the people are unaware of effect of dowry.
They do not realize the harmful effect of dowry. Being from the segment that is not
knowledgeable about the laws and legislation, they face several atrocities owing to dowry
exchange practices. They are left with little or no choices and have to meet the demands of
the groom’s family, which when not met, leads to exploitation of the women.
 Narrow mentality: Narrow mentality behind the dowry system.it is another cause of
dowry.in our country the people have no idea and their mentality is very narrow and poor.
In a town, people think that giving dowry in a marriage creating more status in society. In
a village, most of the people think Dowry is their legal right which has to pay the daughters
family in a marriage. In a village, Poor parents consider any expenses for educating a girl
unproductive as she leaves their family after marriage
 Fear of being separated or divorced: A woman losses her guardian and her bread-
winner, which can result in impoverishment for her. Women in this country cannot easily
get a job as they would have to leave the private sphere to do so, which is not allowed to
them according to the ideology of purdah. It is also quite impossible for a woman to find a
new husband as she is not fulfilling the ideal of purity anymore.

Again, women victim of violence for dowry demands, in majority cases, do not complain
to the police because when her complaint reaches her husband’s ears, all hell might break
loose in her life. If a wife is thrown out of her house by her husband, and she has no income
or education, she has no option but to stay with her father.
 Negative attitude towards the women: negative attitude is another cause, the male
always tries to dominate to the female.
 Lack of women's Education: If any nation has a small knowledge about education
their mentality will grow very poorly and education less people do not observe the real
matter. Lack of women's Education in Families is the reason for giving dowry
 Lack of decision making power of women's in family: lack of decision making
power of women as in family because in Bangladesh families are ruled by father. Because
of that the position of woman in a family is much disagreed
 Culture: The giving of a dower seems to be an established Bangladeshi cultural
institution. The wife is expected to bring suitable gifts (monetary or otherwise) with her to
her new home or shoshurbari.
 Social Custom and Tradition: Custom in anthropology and sociology is a way of
thinking or acting that is characteristic of a group of people. Customs influence the way
people dress, eat, and in general behave; they may take on the force of moral or statute
laws. The social custom and tradition is one of the reasons for Dowry. There is a feeling
that practicing customs generates and strengthens solidarity and cohesiveness among
people. “Many people give and take dowry only because their parents and ancestors had
been practicing it.”
 Lack of Willingness to adhere to laws: The Government of our nation has drafted
several legislations to counteract the dowry system. However, after the decades of drafting,
these laws are still insignificant and this social evil still resides in our society. Seemingly,
the primary reason behind the failure is lack of mass participation. People pay no heed to
such laws and make sure to exploit the dowry system to gain material benefits under the
veil of a marriage proposal. Hence, the demands are made, and owing to ignorance of anti-
dowry laws, the bride’s family suffer at the hands of the groom and his family.

 Security: “Dowry is the bride’s parents’ gifts of love to ensure that she is provided for
financially when she left her parental home.” In a materialistic society, there are constant
pressures on individuals and families for having more and more money not only to provide
more comfort to themselves and family members, but also to have some future security.
 Gift: Gift is a voluntary transfer of property from one person to another During the time
of marriage the friends and the family members will provide some valuable things as a
remembrance of them. “The prevalence of dowry system is mentioned by Jayasi, Tulsidas
and Surdas and some foreign travelers make mention of it also. In rich and royal families,
gifts used to be given to sons-in-law at the time of marriage. Sita, Drayupadi Subhadra
and Ultra brought rich presents including horses, elephants, cow, jeweler, chariots,
servants, maids when they proceeded to their husband’s home after marriage.”
 Aspiration to Marry in High and Rich Family: One of the causes of dowry is
the desire and aspiration of every parent to marry his daughter in a high and rich family to
keep up or to add to his prestige. “The high marriage – market value of the boys belonging
to rich and high social status families has swelled the amount of dowry.”
 Pressures of the Caste System: Caste is largely static, exclusive social class
membership I which is determined by birth and involves particular customary restrictions
and privileged. Among Hindus, marriage, in the same caste and sub caste has been
prescribed by the social and religious practices with the result that choice of selecting a
mate is always restricted. “This results in the paucity of young boys who have high salaried
jobs or promising career in the profession. They become ‘scare commodities’ and their
parents demand high amount of money from the girl’s parents to accept her as their
daughter - in – laws as if girls are chattel for which the bargain has to be made.”
 Rising of Prices: The pressure for larger dowries is due to “ the general rise in prices
and the current obsession with gold and silver ,the prices of which are rising almost every
day” When the groom’s family sees the situation of the economy they are tempted to
demand dowry from the Bride’s family in order to face economic crises
 Income to Groom’s Family: The parents will give the best education to their sons in
order to get good Bride. But while getting marriage settlement they will ask dowry,
because “parents who spend a sizable part of their earning in educating their sons regard

them as investments to yield returns; they expect to realize the first and fattest dividend at
their son’s marriage”
 Hypergamous Marriage System: Besides endogamy, we have also the analoma
{hypergamous} system of marriage according to which a girl belonging to a lower caste
can be married in a higher caste. When boys belonging to the higher castes marry girls of
the lower castes, they demand high dowry. A person often pays a huge amount of dowry
to get a son-in-law from a higher level in the hierarchy.
 Vicious Circle: In the society it is customary that the parents will arrange marriage to
their daughter first and then to their sons. But in some family first the marriage of girls will
not take place. Because of the dowry, they will wait for the marriage of their sons. “Dowries
brought by sons help the parents to utilize a part of them in their daughter’s marriage.”
 False Notion of Social Status: A few people give more dowries just to exhibit their
high social and economic status. “Janis and Rajputs for example spend lakhs of rupees in
the marriage of their daughters just to show their higher status or keep their prestige in the
society even if they have to borrow money.”
 Caste System: Dowry system is related to the caste system, as it is paid in order to marry
a girl to a boy of the same caste of. It is manly practiced among the higher caste of the
girl’s family. Because when the girl is married to another caste’s boy means it is considered
as prestige problems. In order to prevent from that the bride’s family will offer dowry as
much as they can so that the bride groom of the same caste will marry the bride.
 Dower Is Considered as Pre-Mortem Inheritance: According to Hindu law of
inheritance, daughters do not inherit father’s property. So parents marry off daughters with
a much of wealth and much of money in the form of dowry as dowry is the only possibility
to receive any possessions from the daughters father, the husband or his family try to take
advantage of the opportunity.
However, Muslim law allows daughters to inherit and they get half of the share of the son.
But after their father’s death women often renounce their claim of the inheritance in order
to assure the positive relation to and the support by their family. According to this
approach, Hindus as well as Muslims perceive dowry as a form of premarital inheritance.

 Desire of the Girls Parent: It is the desire of the girl’s parent that “she should live
happily with her husband and in-laws and so they think of rich family even if they have to
give heavy dowry. The aim of the bride’s family is that though they are poor their daughter
should not lead the same life. So, they are tempted to give heavy dowry to their daughter,
so that she is married by the rich person.
 Greediness of the Parents of the Boy: Greedy means that wanting more money,
power, food etc., than one really needs. In some families when they arrange marriage for
their son they will demand dowry to make easy money, because if the bride’s family is
unable to give the dowry which is demanded by the bridegroom’s family, they will leave
the bride and try to get another girl.

Other Reasons
1. Dowry is given on parental feelings concern or sense of obligation, so as not to send
daughter with empty handed.
2. Women’s craze for the gold–ornaments is also one of the causes of dowry transactions, a
fast and easy way to get these ornaments through dowry.
3. The black money and unaccounted earnings of the rich class.
4. Sometimes bridegroom wants money: Some time bridegroom wants money to do business
or want to make his life settle with that Get late marriage:
5. In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then they are
to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.
6. Women spend a good life in husband house if dowry paid in marriage.
7. In a village, most of the people think Dowry is their legal right which has to pay the
daughters family in a marriage.
8. In a village, Poor parents consider any expenses for educating a girl unproductive as she
leaves their family after marriage.
9. In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then they are
to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.
10. The giving of a dower seems to be an established Bangladeshi cultural institution. The
wife is expected to bring suitable gifts (monetary or otherwise) with her to her new home
or shoshurbari.

4.2 Effects of Dowry

The dowry system no doubt served some useful purposes for the families involved and the society.
It provided an occasion for people to boost their self-esteem through feasts and displays of material
objects, to make alliances with the families of similar status, to help prevent the breakup of family
property, to get a better match for daughter, and to furnish their daughter with some kind of social
and economic security. Yet the dowry system has some effects on the society as well as to the
individual. “Some people insist that “the dowry system is a social evil and an intolerable burden
to many brides’ families. Social reformers, politicians and educators vehemently condemn the
custom of dowry payments as an unhealthy feature.”
More than 35 million people in Bangladesh, around a quarter of its population, face acute poverty
and hunger. Dowry payments of more than 200 times the daily wage and costly medical expenses
are major causes of this chronic poverty says research from the University of Bath. It is the poor
who really suffer economically and socially as a result of the practice of dowry.

This section is an attempt to illustrate some of the evil effects of dowry system.

 Initiates gender imbalance: When we speak of gender inequality in the nation,

dowry system can be considered the catalyst for this issue. According to the social
infrastructure of the nation, it is a common perception that a woman is a liability and is to
be married off someday, with a dowry debt at disposal. Well, for the masses, the birth of a
girl is an inception to long-term plans to pay off the dowry along with the child.
Seemingly, this saving venture hampers the future of the girl and restricts her of equal
opportunities for the mail child. The very future planning for a better marriage proposal
ruins the prospects of a merrier life for the child. Well, dowry system can be accounted for
atrocities on the masses. The plight of the girl child is initiated with her birth due to this
particular infrastructure and continues to hamper her peace of mind and tranquility.
According to the latest 2011 census stats, the number of females per 1000 males stands at
a meager count of 943. Hence, this impacts the building blocks of the society and hampers
the growth of the nation.

 Social effects: Society owes its origins to masses and when we speak of the constituent
evils of the segment in our subcontinent, dowry system is one of the most leveraged one.
Being widely practiced across the nation, every other family faces the brunt of it. If a
demand is not met by the bride’s family, she suffers at the hands of her groom’s family
leading to social imbalance and emotional breakdown. The society seemingly judges the
worth of a person on the basis of dowry accepted or received and this framework can be
attributed to the detrimental status of woman in the society.

 Decrements status of women: When a girl is born, for particular individuals, the
societal framework is dismayed. She is no longer a happiness and her birth is no more an
occasion. She is deprived of basic rights to education, freedom and speech. However,
owing to the basic structure, and the dowry ideology, her ordeal doesn’t end with marriage.
For a female individual, with little or no self-economic support, she exists at the assistance
of her groom. Hence, when his demands aren’t met, it leads to the breakdown of the
empathetic relation between the two entities leading to disparity. After a period, this ordeal
doesn’t come to conclusion, rather, it leads to domestic violence and poses a serious threat
to the future of the family. The girl loses on her freedom once she is married and it yet
again, comes at the cost of a dowry debt.

 Promotes domestic violence and crime: Dowry system initiates the act of violence
in the society. When demands are not met by the bride’s family, the atrocities elevate
proportionately. At times, extreme steps are undertaken to shell out financial grants or
material benefits from the bride’s family. Well, yet again these steps can be attributed to
the much-debated domestic violence. The crimes against women take a surge owing to this
structure of extortion.

 Economic effects: Economy is not just the financial stockpile of the nation. Rather, it
is a deep-vested, mass effort to bring the platter for every individual. Dowry system, though
it seems a minor social evil can affect the nation and its individuals alike. Owing to this
setup, women aren’t granted equal rights and opportunities, leading to loss of economic
workforce from the segment. Women are active participants in the development of the
nation, and if their rights are hampered at the domestic level, it affects our economic build-

up significantly. We lose the consistent workforce at the hands of a social evil and hamper
the growth of our own home and the society.

 Deteriorating financial status of bride’s family: Dowry doesn’t affect the bride
alone. Rather, its ordeal extends to bride’s parents and they have to bear the financial
demands of their counterparts to ensure well-being of their child. With regular demands
from the groom’s family, reports of suicides are yet again common in the country. Needless
to say, this social evil should necessarily be eradicated for the society and the nation.

 Loss of self-esteem among the women: The demands being met for the welfare of
the bride comes at a cost. Out of concern for her parents, she loses on self-esteem by
believing she is a burden on her family. It costs her peace of mind, and her right to a better
life. Dowry system has imposed an invisible chain upon the freedom and self-respect of
women and continues to haunt them since time eternal. Observing the problem closely, the
greed of an individual ruins the peace of a beautiful brain.

 Emotional Disturbances, Psychological and Social Maladjustment of

Parents: The institution of dowry may have been useful in days gone but by these days
it is nothing but a blot on the canvas of Bangladesh’s social life. At one time, dowry used
to be ‘accepted’ by the grooms’ party but now it has become to the ‘demanded’. The result
is that “from the day of the birth of the girl, the problem of dowry haunts the minds of the
parents. And if by misfortune, a man has three or four daughters; his whole life is passed
in solving only one problem how to arrange the marriage of his daughters.” This leads to
emotional disturbances, psychological and social maladjustments.

 Adopting Social Corruption of Foul Means of Earning: Among the severed

consequences of ‘dowry greed’ is the ‘social-corruption’ that is a thrust on all concerned.
By and large parents of moderate means find it extremely difficult to meet out the expenses
covering dowry and all extravagancies connected with the marriage. “Compulsion surely
breeds corruption and so sometimes the parents of the girl will have to resort to foul means
to make money to meet the dowry demand.” Thus the girl’s parents indulge in malpractices
in order to give money to their daughters.

 Hard Work of the Parents: Because of demanding huge amount of dowry “the
parents have to work hard to provide the boys with good dowries.” The parents are ready
to do all kinds of woks in order to get money so that they can give enough dowries to their
daughters. Because of their hard work they have to face physical as well as mental

 Female Infanticide: In many families, “birth of a daughter was regarded as a curse till
18th century and there were cases when daughters born in the family were put to death.”
“During the British period the practice of female infanticide was prohibited regarding it as
in-human under Female Infanticide prevention Act 1870.” The social evil of dowry further
enlarged the incidents of female infanticide particularly in middle class families. “Since it
was impossible to determine the fetus sex there is no alternative in a poor or middle class
family except to kill the daughter in infancy.”

 Abortion after Determining Sex of Fetus: Abortion is the termination of a

pregnancy by loss or destruction of a fertilized egg, or fetus before birth. “The Medical
Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 legally permitted abortion if the life or physical or
mental health of the woman is in danger or it is in the interest of health of the women or
the child born” The invention of determination of sex of fetus has increased the incidents
of abortion or medical termination of pregnancy, when it is determined that the fetus is of
a female, without considering the psychological effect or physical health of

 Illiteracy: Illiteracy, conversely, is the lack of such ability.” “Many people think that it
is wastage of time and money to give education to their girls. Parents have negative
attitudes towards the girl’s education.” In a study by P. Singh, A. Singh and Suman Lata
(2008) it was stated that only three girls attended school out five girls and three boys
attended school out of four boys.

 More Labor Burden: “Since parents are not able to arrange sufficient amount of
money for dowry, they will allow their daughters and sisters to take up a job and earn some
money to be utilized at the time of their marriage.” The girls are asked to leave their
schooling and forced to work. As they do not have sufficient learning they will not be

given white-collar jobs instead they will be given all kinds of works with less amount of

 Psychological Suppression of the Girls: The boy accepts a girl who belongs to a
well-off family, highly educated, in service, and earns. His likings do not end here. He
also wants a girl whose parents can pay him much at the time of marriage. This evil has
taken colossal shape in the modern times. “There are cases where the girl is highly
educated, cultured, homely, and accomplished, but not accepted as a wife only because her
parents are not able to give much.” “The fiancé and the fiancée write letters to each other,
marriage date has been fixed, but when all of a sudden the boy gets a better offer from a
rich family, the engagement is broken. This gives a shock to the parents as well as to the

 Suicide: Suicide is an act whose primary aim is the intentional and deliberate taking of
one’s own life. “Suicides are of two types: conventional and personal. The first type occurs
as a result of tradition and the force of public opinion. Thus, among some tradition – ruled
peoples, when certain situation arise, suicide is inexorably demanded. The second type
suicide is more typical of modern times, when people depend less on custom ad convention
solve their problems than on individual decisions.”
When the engagement is broken due to dowry the girl begins to live in the society with a
sense of insecurity, develops on inferiority complex, and remains emotionally suppressed.
“She feels herself to be a burden on her parents and sometimes in that gloom and mental
weariness is prone to commit suicide.”

 Affinal Relations: Dowry influences radically not only the economic and the social
behavior of the people having daughters but also affects profoundly relations between
parents and children, and among kin. “The parents who cannot afford to pay dowry to
marry their daughters consider them a burden for the family. Similarly, brothers consider
their sisters as barriers in the achievement of their aspirations” as a result, many a time the
treatment given by parents and brothers to girls in the family disrupts harmony in intra-
family relations.

 Family Conflict: Dowry system leads to family conflicts. When a mother-in-law does
not get dowry to her satisfaction, she maltreats her daughter-in-law and abuses her father,
mother and relatives. “The emotional shock on the part of the girl and the authoritarian
personality of mother-in-law will lead to family conflicts.”
 Conjugal Disharmony: Dowry dominates the sense of conjugal disharmony in the
affluent and middle-class section of the society. It effects the marital relations in a sizeable
proportion of married couples. This is mainly so because “the present-day youths most
unscrupulously threaten their wives with desertion if they do not bring enough dowry from
their parents.” This social evil of dowry is the major cause of break –down of marriages.
 Dowry Death: Where the death of a women is caused by any burns or body injury or
occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and
it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her
husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with any demand for dowry,
such death shall be called “Dowry Death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed
to have caused her death” The most media-sensationalized type of violence against women
in India is dowry death. When a woman marries, her family provides the husbands’ family
with gifts. In many instances, the demand for these gifts, does not end with the marriage
but continues, as the husband’s family persists in making additional dowry demands for
years after the wedding. A dowry death is defined as “the unnatural death of a woman
caused by burns or bodily injury occur if it can be shown that the woman was subjected to
cruelty by her husband or her husband’s relatives shortly before death in connection with
a demand for dowry”

 Treatment and Humiliation: Though dowry-death is generally understood to

involve the murder of a woman on the dowry issue in the family of procreation but before
the act of killing, several forms of harassment and humiliation take place against the victim.
“The killers in dowry-deaths are brutal and authoritarian and the murder is only one
expression of the offender’s personality maladjustment and abnormality.” The humiliation
generally will start with criticism, followed by familiar scenes-insults, abuses and demands
for more money. Some women used to put up with victimization because they know that

their parents are not in a position to give more and to some other will think that things will
change after the birth of a child.
The methods used in ill treating daughters-in-law are:
(1)Abuses, insults, passing sarcastic remarks, (2) Assaults, (3) Denial of food or starvation,
(4) Prohibiting them from going out and meeting any one, (5) Refusing visits to the parents’
home, (6) Not permitting them to talk with visitors from the parents’ home, and (7) Locking
them up in a room.” The problem of dowry-death is not and cannot be a uni-causal
problem; it is the product of a complex multi-dimensional process.
 Divorce: Divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage. When a marriage is fixed some
considerable amount will be given as dowry, by parents of the Bride, or will be asked by
the Bridegroom’s family members. But in many cases the demanding for dowry will also
continue after the marriage. The parents who are able to give will give. But many of the
parents are unable to give the demanded as a result; harassments will take place by the
Bridegroom’s family. The Girl who is not able to get dowry either she will appeal for
divorce, or her parents will appeal for divorce.

Other Effects of dowry

 Dowry demand will also lead to child-marriages. For an educated girl, the more educated
and qualified husband is needed. This necessitates greater dowry. Thus, the parents prefer
early marriages than to do so at a later age with higher demand of dowry.”
 “Dowry is closely related to the financial position of the parents of the girl, many people
who are poor offer their young daughters to very elderly persons.” Girls are forced to
marry undeserving men, aged persons or with a man having one or two living wives or
with liquour-adicts as no dowry need to be given to such persons
 The custom of paying a dowry to the future husband's family when a daughter is married
is illegal in Bangladesh, but is still practiced by most families living in rural areas. Payment
is normally upwards from 20,000 Taka (around £190) and since typical earnings are only
100 Taka (94 pence) per day, this can be a major contributor to poverty for many families
with daughters.

 The trend of rising dowries, commonly referred to as inflation, has received much attention,
as payments can represent multiple years' worth of a family’s income and often cause
severe destitution of households with daughters of marriageable age.
 Through this custom the bride has to give a large amount of money, furniture, ornaments
and many things to the bridegroom. It is a very terrible situation for the society. Women &
their family suffer a lot for this dowry system.
 The money of dowry is often raised by the sale or mortgaging of land at low prices. It also
includes livestock, trees, household goods and family jewelry and as well as loans from
NGOs and moneylenders at high rates of interest.
 Additionally, a common result of unmet dowry is sending the girl or woman back to her
parent as house. When this happens every one considers that it must be the fault of the girl
or woman saying such things as: she could not adapt to her husband or She cannot look
after her husband properly So, once again both the girl and her parents suffer from rumors
and criticism. This also affects the reputation of the younger sisters.
Beside these there are a lute of effects of dowry in Bangladesh.

4.3 Forms of Violence against Women for Dowry

The violence and deaths associated with dowry demands constitute domestic violence. Similar to
acts of domestic violence, the acts used in dowry-related offences include physical, emotional, and
economic violence, as well as harassment as means to exact compliance or to punish the victim.
Victims will be best served when protected by an expansive domestic violence legislative
framework that encompasses dowry-related violence. Drafters should define the scope of
prohibited acts within a domestic violence framework, considering the dynamics of dowry-related
violence. Lawmakers should include violence and harassment related to dowry demands in a
definition of domestic violence. Demands for dowry should not be a requisite element in domestic
violence laws, however, because of their subtle and often implicit nature .

 Physical abuse: "physical abuse" means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to
cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or
development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and
criminal force (Khan, 2005)

 Sexual abuse: "Sexual abuse" includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses,
humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
 Verbal and emotional abuse: "Verbal and emotional abuse" includes- Insults, ridicule,
humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule especially with regard to not having a child
or a male child; and repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the
aggrieved person is interested.
 Economic abuse: “Economic abuse" includes- deprivation of all or any economic or
financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom
whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person
requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the
aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned
by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and

Prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person
is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared

4.3.1 Dowry death

Dowry deaths are deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous
harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.
Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women, alongside rape,
bride burning, eve teasing, and acid throwing. It is widespread in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Nepal, Sri Lanka and some regions of Africa. Pakistan has the highest reported rates of dowry-
related deaths per 100,000 women in the world.
Types of Dowry Death
Dowry death depending upon the causes and legal significance are broadly group under the
following categories: -
i. Death due to Burns.
ii. Death to the Drowning.

iii. Death due to Asphyxia inclusive of Hanging, Throttling, Strangulation, Smothering
iv. Death due to Poisoning.
v. Other miscellaneous death.
Majority of dowry death are due to burning poisoning of drowning where case of death can be
clinched easily, yet great must be taken to find out or truth and the exact cause. In almost all case
victims are usually young roamed females. Many of these cases are labeled an accidental death to
hide the crime; but actually, speaking these are turned to be homicidal in nature.

Statistics showing Dowry related violence
against women from January 2001 - May 2018
Dowry related violence against women









2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
Killed Physically abused Suicide Total victims

We can see in the figures that in 2012, the violence against women rose up to 822 people, and the previous
years also shows alarming violence. In recent years like 2014-2018, the number of victims of dowry system
are little less but still in an ascending order.

4.4 Dowry Laws

Section 304-B of the Indian Penal code lays down that where the death of a women is caused by
any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years
of her marriage, such death shall be ‘dowry death’, and such husband or relative shall be deemed
to have caused her death.

It is very good that the law has been imposed to protect the victims of dowry system but in adequate
practices strengthen the oppressors. As for the parents of the girl, their guilt in marrying off their girl child
to a dowry-hunter and thereafter shut their eyes to the plight of their daughter in her husband’s home is not
punishable in law to some extent.

The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Ordinance 1984 extended the definition of dowry to ‘any property
or valuable security given at the time of marriage or at any time’ that substituted the earlier words ‘at, before
or after the marriage’. It states that at the time of marriage or at any time] before or after the marriage as
consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mehr in the case of persons
to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.

 Section 3 of the Act provides the punishment for giving or taking dowry: If any person,
after the commencement of this Act, gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry,
he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to [five years and shall not be
less than one year, or with fine, or with both]
 Section 4 of the Act sets out the punishment for demanding dowry: If any person,
after the commencement of this Act, demands, directly or indirectly, from the parents or
guardian of a bride or bridegroom, as the case may be, any dowry, he shall be punishable
with imprisonment which may extend to (five years and shall not be less than one year, or
with fine, or with both).

4.5. Dowry Prohibition Act 1980 (‘The Act’): The Act is the primary law dealing with
dowry in Bangladesh. It makes dowry a criminal offence, originally punishable by a maximum
penalty of one year’s imprisonment or a fine of BDT500 (approximately USD 6.25) or both. The
Act criminalizes the taking and giving dowry, and governs associated investigation and trial
proceedings. In attempts to redress deficiencies, it was amended on a number of occasions. For
example, its 1986 amendment increased the penalty for claiming dowry and made dowry a non-
cognizable and non-bailable offence (Ordinance 36 of 1986). Dowry-violence is also subject to
other laws such as the WCR Act. Nevertheless, the evidence (below) demonstrates that legislative
enactment has proved largely ineffective.

4.5.1 Legislative Impact on Dowry: Despite being the subject matter of several pieces of
legislation, dowry remains pervasive and a source of death and torture of women. Any earlier
downward trend in deaths has reversed: in 2011, dowry resulted in 305 deaths of women, up from
235 in 2010 and 227 in 2009, and substantially up from the 169 reported in 2002‘

There is also the question of dowry-related violence failing to proceed to trial. These actions
completely violate women’s dignity and any marital or familial relationship.


Killed Suicide

11 273
11 6 235 227
118 107 119 123
2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

The current legal approach appears to have failed to protect women against dowry and associated
violence. Instead, dowry has created multi-faceted social problems to which the law is also inept
in responding. Despite the gradual increase in female empowerment, an early marriage is still
perceived as the best strategy to provide a ‘safe shelter’ for a young girl, regardless of her parent’s
socioeconomic status. Therefore, most women lack even basic educational opportunities, a
prerequisite for economic power.

4.5.2 Major Flaws in the Act, Penalty for Taking Dowry: Despite the introduction
of strict penalty for taking dowry in the 1986 amendment, the practice continues to increase. One
reason may be the degree of emphasis on court discretion regarding penalties. Section 3 provides
that the penalty for any person giving or taking dowry shall be imprisonment from 1 to 5 years,
or a fine or both. Consequently, the court can reduce the sentence; and imprisonment is equated
with a fine—however, a fine is not fixed or properly clarified. Thus, sanctions appear vulnerable
to judicial bias and any higher socio-economic status of the husband. Given the alarming increase
of dowry incidents, this discretionary power must be removed. Additionally, the penalty
specified should be increased when the taking of dowry exceeds the financial capacity of the
bride’s father.

4.5.3 Similar Liability for Giving and Taking Dowry: The Act fails to recognize the
gravity of the crime and the immorality involved in ‘taking dowry’ by placing dowry giver and
dowry taker on an equal plane (s 3). It fails to consider the unequal power balance in operation.
Dowry-takers are more blameworthy as they are motivated by greed and utilize the groom’s
superior bargaining position. By contrast, the deeply embedded socio-cultural values attached to a
‘marriageable daughter’ force parents to offer dowry. Their concerns include providing for her
future via marriage and reduced marriage prospects as she ages. In numerous instances, parents
incur huge financial liabilities to satisfy the in-law’s demands. This does not reflect their free will.
The reality of Bangladesh therefore compels parents to offer dowry.
4.5.4 Voluntary Transfer of property to the Bride: Section 3 of India’s Dowry
Prohibition Act 1961 considers all voluntary presents of a marriage the exclusive property of the
bride, and requires those presents to be listed. The Bangladesh legislation does To ensure women’s
exclusive control over the property, it is further recommended that the listed property not be able

to be transferred to, or disposed of, within five years of marriage without the permission of the
Family Court on an application of the bride
Even though it is difficult to decide what is and what is not a voluntary gift and the fact that the
listing requirement is still susceptible to abuse by in-laws, because a bride’s failure to let them
use such properties may yet result in undesirable incidents; nevertheless, the formal listing and
registration requirements help women establish legal control over the property and make it more
difficult for the in-laws to extort that property. This provision should be incorporated in section
3 of the Act to strengthen women’s position in the home.
4.5.5 Penalty for Demanding Dowry: Section 4 of the Act makes ‘direct and indirect’
demands for dowry an offence. Making a merely ‘demand’ an offence is appropriate recognition
of the magnitude of dowry. ‘Indirect demand’, however, has not been defined by the Act; neither
have any guidelines been developed in this regard. This omission may advance undue
expectations of the in-laws under the pretext of ‘voluntary gifts’ (instead indirect demand) and
perpetuate physical/emotional abuse of the bride which, oftentimes, remains invisible. Therefore,
certain categories of actions and inactions, especially linked with the treatment by and behavior
of in-laws towards a bride should be categorized under the ‘indirect demand’.

4.5.6 Voluntary Gifts to be for the Benefit of the Wife: Given the traditional
economic dependence and powerlessness of Bangladeshi women, section 6 should be restored
as gifts worth BDT500 are still allowed under the Act. Section 6, however, will not deal with the
‘dowry property’ as it would be contrary to the spirit and objectives of the Act. A provision
concerning ‘voluntary gifts’ (paralleling India’s legislation) should be there inserted to provide
greater economic security for women in the matrimonial home. Under this provision, all gifts
given at marriage must be registered in the name of the bride and in the event of the dissolution
of marriage revert to her. This will foster women’s economic power and independence.

The penalty for non-compliance (under section 6) is nominal in terms of the amount of property
delivered in a modern marriage. Given that it is relatively simple for in-laws to exploit properties
and pay the fine of BDT500 (USD 6.25), the penalty must be increased in order to act as a genuine

4.6 Flaws in relevant legal provisions of dowry in Bangladesh:
4.6.1 Arrest Policy: Most dowry violence is committed in the privacy of the in-law’s house,
leaving hardly independent corroborative witnesses or direct evidence to prove the crime.
Consequently, the fate of such cases depends on the honesty and objectivity of the investigating
police. The 1986 Amendment allows police to arrest the person accused of dowry violence without
a warrant but provides little guidance regarding enforcement. Police reportedly seldom enforce
arrests and recognize dowry as a crime. In numerous instances, police—believing that the victim
provoked the violent incident—refuse to register a case brought by a woman
Equally, manipulation of the investigatory process and police failure to investigate or take proper
action helps many offenders to go legally unchallenged. On some occasions, no action is taken
even after years, ‘until evidence disappears’ while the state places arrest powers exclusively on
police. Absence of legal compulsion to arrest promotes corruption and inappropriate police
practice, the abuser’s economic and political power often impedes objective investigation. The
existing approach ignores not only the ‘vulnerable position’ of dowry victims in an unequal
abusive relation but also evidences serious flaws in the country’s criminal law. There is also
hardly any precedent in Bangladesh where police have been held responsible for failure to
perform their legal duties In collecting and producing evidence and dealing with dowry-violence
victims, police also lack proper training, sensitivity and expertise.

No accurate official statistics exist to provide a full account of registered dowry cases. Those
available, however, suggest that a total of 2,761 cases of dowry-violence were registered with
the country’s courts (Baseline Report), far below the actual incidence of such violence.

Bangladesh Parliament enacted the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010
which obligates a police officer to make the victim aware of possible redress, however, it does
not provide for mandatory arrest and is not yet in force.

The greatest advantages of mandatory arrest are: (i) immediate protection provided to the victim;
(ii) in-laws being cautioned about their violent or indecent behavior; and (iii) making reluctant
police officials work more carefully and sensitively.

The present Police Reforms Program in place in Bangladesh aims to improve the efficiency and
professionalism of police, and address their own lack of sensitivity in dealing with vulnerable
women victims. This is a positive development, and it is hoped that this initiative includes a
compulsory training which: (i) must reflect international standards; (ii) specify how to approach
victims and conduct dowry trial investigations; and (iii) include consequences for police for
inadequate and inappropriate responses to dowry victims. More importantly, a minimum
standard must be maintained by the government in ensuring dowry remedies since it undertook
obligations to remove, inter alia, negative social practices that damage women’s dignity and to
restructure the criminal justice system.

4.6.2 Dowry Prosecution Policy: In Bangladesh, dowry prosecution entirely depends on

the victims’ decision; prosecutors are under no obligation to complete a prosecution. Even after
filing a case, prosecutors can do nothing when the victim refuses to testify against the offender
or decides to drop the case. Current practice ignores the victim’s vulnerability to intimidation,
and undermines any idea that a ‘prosecutor’s duties are not only to convict but to seek justice’
and facilitates case manipulation at the offenders’ behest.

Given the violent nature of dowry-practice and the acquittal rate in Bangladesh for dowry-related
violence, legislators should place the full responsibility for prosecution on the prosecutor. Families
must come to realize that their undue dowry demands will be taken up by the prosecutors
themselves and relieve victims of any offender attempts to influence their decision. Alternatively,
prosecutors should be legally accountable to consider dowry cases more seriously. As prosecutors
are already engaged in dowry trials in Bangladesh, the introduction of a pro-prosecution policy
will take little effort.

4.6.3 Presumption of Innocence
Bangladesh follows the Common Law approach to the presumption of innocence which holds that
the accused should be presumed innocent until the court finds her or him guilty beyond any
reasonable doubt. A rigid application of this principle has often failed to provide remedies for
dowry victims in Bangladesh. Given significant difficulties in proving dowry claims in
Bangladesh, similar provision of presumption should be legislated to address those instances where
there is evidence of cruelty or grievous hurt to women in connection with dowry. This will make
it easier for women to seek criminal remedies for various degree of severity not just where a fatality
resulted. Thus, the principle of presumption of innocence should serve not only to protect a
particular individual on trial, but to maintain public confidence in ensuring the integrity and
security of the legal system.

4.6.4 The Burden of Proof: Dowry-violence due to its private nature generally lacks
independent witnesses as mentioned. Legal evidentiary requirements which place the burden of
proof on the victim exacerbate the situation. ‘Benefit of doubt’ and a lack of evidence mean that
dowry victims often fail to prove their case, resulting in the accused’s eventual acquittal. Since
similar dowry-violence-death and difficulties associated with proving such deaths also prevail in
Bangladesh, it is submitted that the Act needs to be amended to incorporate the above provisions.
In regards to non-fatal dowry-related violence and allegations of dowry demand, the shifting of
the burden of proof will again prove of assistance. The court would have clear guidelines and the
provisions would help remedy the suffering of women in ‘private affairs’, where current trial
proceedings fall short. This should also send a strong message to in-laws tempted to press their

4.6.5 Inadequate Legal Response to Polygamy and Marriage Documentation:

Their Impact on Dowry: One of the most damaging but overlooked consequences of dowry
is that dowry-related disputes lead to divorce or polygamous marriage with little or no redress for
women. Dowry incentives encourage a husband to abuse and abandon a wife to acquire another
dowry by marrying another.

Husband-initiated divorce, however, results in some legal rights such as dower and spousal
maintenance. New family courts and processes have brought some changes (and increased

recovery rates for funds) – but these are still patently insufficient with many women continuing to
experience difficulties. Additionally, nonregistration of marriage in a significant number of cases
leads to the refusal of dower and maintenance for wives by the court. A more severe penalty for
the failure to accurately register a marriage should also be imposed on the registrar and the grooms’
families to encourage them to regard this as a serious offence.

Chapter 5: Data Presentation and Analysis

5.1 Data Analysis

In this study, at first, we tried to find out from whether the respondents’ behaviors towards dowry system
are influenced by their characteristics.

Table 1: Characteristics of Respondents:

Variables Numbers Percentage

Male 15 30%
Female 35 70%

Below 18 07 14%
Age 18-25 23 46%
26-35 13 26%

35-50 07 14%
Total 50 100%

Educational Primary 5 10%

Secondary 6 12%

Higher secondary 11 22%

Graduate 14 28%

Post graduate 10 20%

Illiterate 3 6%

Total 50 100%

Marital Married 21 42%

Unmarried 29 58%

Total 50 100%

Monthly Below 1,000 20 40%
Income (Tk.)
1,000-5,000 15 30%

5,000-10,000 05 10%

Above 10,00 0 10 20%

Total 50 100%

Lower class 7 14%

Social class Lower middle class 11 22%

Middle class 17 34%

Upper middle class 15 30%

Total 50 100%

Student 18 36%
Service holder 09 18%
Occupation Business 06 12%
Day laborer 08 16%

Unemployed 09 18%

Total 50 100%

Source: Field Study Total questionnaire were 50.

The table-1 shows that out of 50 respondents 30 % male and 70 % female. Among them 14 % respondents
age are below 18, 46 % respondents 18-25, and 26 % respondents 26-35, and 14% are 35-50. 14 % are
coming from lower class, 22 % from lower middle class, 28 % from middle class, 36 % from upper middle
class, and 30 % from upper class. Out of 50 respondents 36 % are students, 18% service holder, 12 %
respondents are businessmen, 16 % are day laborer and 18% are unemployed.

Table 2: Knowledge about dowry:

Yes 44
No 6

Total 50


The result shows that about 88% of our respondents have well knowledge about dowry system.

Table 3: Victim of dowry system?

Yes 18

No 32

Total 50

The result shows that 64% of our respondents haven’t faced the dowry system yet.

Table 5: Are you in favor of taking and giving Dowry?

Yes 42
No 8 14%

Total 50


The result shows that 86% of our sample are against dowry system, although 14% still are in favor
of the system.

Table 5: Is Dowry system a serious issue or not?

Yes 39
No 11

Total 50


The result shows that 78% of the people take dowry system as a serious issue, and the rest 22%
doesn’t care about it.

Table 6: Why Dowry is given by women?

They can live at her husbands’ house 31

safely and with honor.

Lack of women's Education 7

Women’s craze for the gold–ornaments 5

Aspiration to Marry in High and Rich 4


Negative attitude towards the women 3

Total 50


14% 62%

They can live at her husbands’ house safely and with honor.
Lack of women's Education
Women’s craze for the gold–ornaments
Aspiration to Marry in High and Rich Family
Negative attitude towards the women

The results show that 62% of the respondents think that dowry is given by women so that they can
live at her husbands’ house safely and with honor. Lack of women’s education and sometimes
women’s craze for the gold–ornaments are also taking consideration.

Table 7: Do you think that dowry system has lowered the status of the women
in our society?

Yes 31

No 19
Total 50 38%


The result shows that 62% of our respondents agree with the statement, but 38% think that dowry
system actually has higher the status of the women in our society

Table 8: Do you think that poverty and illiteracy are the main causes of dowry

Yes 26

No 24
Total 50 Yes

The result shows that 525 of the respondents agree with the fact that poverty and illiteracy are the
main causes of dowry system, but 48% think that other variables also affect the cause of dowry

Table 9: Do you think it is because of Dowry parents don't give birth to girl

Yes 29

No 21
Total 50 42%

The result shows that 58% of our respondents strongly believe that because of Dowry parents don't
give birth to girl child, although 21% think that in modern times, this thinking has been changed.

Table 10: Is Dowry system an obstacle in higher education of girls?

Yes 33
No 17 34%

Total 50


The result shows that 66% of our respondents believe that because of Dowry parents restrict their
daughters from perusing higher educations.

Table 11: What is the main reason of exercising dowry?

Greed 24
Need 5 8%

Custom 15

Compulsion 4
Total 50 31%


The chart shows that the main reason of exercising dowry is greed by 50% of the respondents, then
custom, need, and compulsion respectively.

Table 12: Domestic violence against women are greatly caused by dowry system. Do
you agree?

Yes 35
No 15 30%

Total 50


The result shows that 35% of the respondents agree that Domestic violence against women are
greatly caused by dowry system, and the rest 15% think that Domestic violence against women
are caused by other reasons.

Table 13. In spite of having anti dowry law or dowry prohibition Act 1980. Why
it is increasing in our society.

Lack of Willingness to adhere to laws 18

Corrupted Arrest Policy 15

Weak Dowry Prosecution Policy 6

Lacks Independent Witnesses 11

Total 50

Lack of Willingness to adhere to laws Corrupted Arrest Policy

Weak Dowry Prosecution Policy Lacks Independent Witnesses




The result shows that 36% of the respondents think that because of lack of willingness to adhere
to laws dowry system is increasing in our society. Corrupted arrest policy another vital reason that
dowry system is increasing in our society.

Table 14. Should the government make existing laws stronger and take strict
actions against Dowry system?

Yes 43
yea no
No 7
Total 50


The result shows that 86% of the respondents suggest that the government should make existing
laws stronger and take strict actions against Dowry system.

Table 15: Preferably who can control the expansion of dowry system?

Youth 16
government NGOs parents
Government 12 bride all above

NGOs 2
Parents 13
6% 35%
Bride 2

All above 5 38% 6%

Total 50

A question was asked about the control on dowry system and its extension. Table no. 4, showed
that youth was the most dominant vigor to control the extension of dowry system. Additionally,
government and parents of both bride and groom can control and stop the expansion of dowry
system. Nevertheless, bride and NGOs have lowest votes.

Table 16: Will you insist on 'No Dowry' in your marriage?

Yes 34
Yes No Maybe
No 7

Maybe 9 18%
Total 50 14%

The result shows that our 68% of the respondents will insist 'No Dowry' in their marriage, and
18% can’t sure about that.

 Would you like to suggest any reforms in Dowry system?

Our respondents have suggested the following reforms regarding dowry system:
1. Education is a best dowry
2. Every successful man should be against dowry system if not he is an unsuccessful man
3. Dowry system should be completely abolished and if found should be punished rigorously
4. Forcefully asking dowry is wrong
5. Women should be given the power of decision making and all the respects if they are to bring

5.2 Problems and Findings

5.2.1 Problems
 The practice of dowry has demeaned as the right of groom’s parents in our society. Parents
of groom often explained as they spent so much on their son, for his education, for raising
him that will benefit the bride. For that they demand some amount to have the son.
 Poverty is one of the main causes of Dowry practice. Sometime bridegroom wants money
to do business or want to make his life settle with that money.
 Illiteracy, narrow mentality, negative attitude to the women etc. are the main cause of
dowry. In the village if brides are not beautiful to look at or if they get late married then
they are to give a lot of money as dowry to the bridegroom.
 There are thousands of cases that few offenders are actually punished. There are some laws
against Dowry, but we cannot apply them properly. It shows that only law is not enough to
protect the women against injustice. It needs social awareness and effective measures.
 We should change our outlook, mentality by our Law rules. Narrow mentality of the greedy
people should be changed and a hard punishment should be given to them.
 Women’s illiteracy, dependence on husband and living on their income are another causes
of dowry. The government in Bangladesh has already taken positive steps in increasing the
enrolment of girls in schools, which should decrease the practice of giving and demanding
5.2.2 Findings
 The practice of dowry has demeaned the value of a woman in our society. Most families
prefer a male child either because they can capitalize on him to bring in dowry or to prevent
the giving of it. To have a daughter means to lose money and material goods, but to have
a son translates to gaining more. Since the world everything materially, women have come
to be considered less valuable to the parents than sons.
 Dowry is purely a matter of culture. No one gives Dowry willingly. It will probably be
shameful for the father if he did not give anything due to perverted customs so he gives
“gifts” to his daughter, which the husband greedily accepts, thinking it is given willingly.

 Middle and upper class as well as better-educated grooms demand huge dowries. Often,
even after the payment of a dowry, the husband or their families may demand more money
or goods.
 When the woman brings less than the negotiated amount, she has to endure constant torture
from her in-laws after marriage. When the husband or in-laws are not satisfied with the
dowry brought by the bride, they even go to the extent of killing the woman after marriage.
The most severe among all the dowry abuse is "bride burning". The parties engaged in the
murder usually report the case as an accident or suicide.
 Numerous women are undergoing harassment and physical abuse, compelling some of
them either to commit suicide or ruthlessly be killed by their husbands and/or in-laws who
lust for dowry.
 Corrupted legal provision of dowry system motivating the taker of dowry.
 Because of dowry, parents don’t give birth to girls.
 Despite legislative and administrative initiatives, dowry remains widespread in Bangladesh
and women’s legal remedies are frustrated by a series of powerful factors that must be

Chapter 6: Policy Recommendation
 Formation of Women’s Organization: Women’s organizations should come
forward to help and reinstate victims of unhappy marriages especially where dowry is the
prime cause for harassment. This will prevent the helpless brides from taking their own
lives, as well as, give courage to families who feel that divorce is a social stigma.
 Creating Public Opinion through Education: The co-operation of the people
can be sought only by creating public opinion. A single man may not be controlled by the
law but when a large number of people are penalized, the law is in the stronger position.
The success of all social legislation depends upon the support of the general public. Or; it
may be said that social understanding is the first requisite to solve the problem. And this
social understanding may be created by bringing the evils of dowry to the notice of the
people through moral as well as formal education. No doubt, there are cases in which it is
found that educated people demand more dowries. Education, instead of mitigating the
evil has worsened it to a scandalous proportion.
 Establishment of Separate Courts: To deal with the case of dowry and bride –
burning, separate courts may be established. These would contribute to the speedy and
efficient disposal of dowry death cases. It will lead to the promotion of “trends”. “If the
judge is acquittal – minded about such cases, all offenders in such cases may get off lightly.
If he is, on the other hand, in favor of exemplary punishment, the fate of the accused would
be sealed. It is therefore, necessary that a large number of judges should deal with such
 Law enforcing agency (LEA): Law enforcing agency is generally regarded as
corrupt in the country which results in the fact that the deprived women don’t get the legal
right already stipulated in laws of the country
 Women’s Awareness: Women should be more aware of their legal rights as that even
after several decades of the introduction to of social legislation, very few women know the
legal rights and are unable to enumerate provisions incorporated in these nights. Hence
there is more need for the voluntary organizations from grass-root level to upper most strata
of society. They can play the role of “pressure group” and information agencies to mobilize
Government, administrators and society to raise voice against violence to women.

 Economic condition: Bangladesh is a country of poverty. Most of the people live
under poverty line. This is one of the reasons of nonpayment of dower and demand of
dowry by the husband. For insolvency people not only commit the crime of dowry but
commit other crimes also
 Mass Media: The roles of the main mass media is also very significant, they play a vital
role in mobilizing public – opinion against social evils. “A sustained campaign should be
conducted through the communication media such as Radio, Television, and Newspapers
to arouse the consciousness of the public against the dowry system and help eradicate this
social evil
 There are thousands of cases that few offenders are actually punished. It shows that only
law is not enough to protect the women against injustice. It needs social awareness and
effective measures.
 The registration of marriage should be made compulsory. And it should be compulsory to
paid Mahr at the time of marriage by groom.
 Though every parent realizes that dowry is a social evil and need be curbed, but neither the
parents are in a position to ex pose that they give dowry for they would not like to be
disgraced in public but also held guilty under the Dowry Prohibition Act. This attitude
should change.
 Government servants who either demand or receive dowry should be subject to strict
disciplinary action.
 The Dowry Prohibition Act should be enforced strictly – its many loopholes should be
corrected. Dowry offenders should be publicly exposed and punished in the form of
imprisonment of fines.
 The women and their parents should refuse the men who want dowry. Men and women
should promise against the dowry system. People who practice dowry system should be
socially boycotted.
 We should create a movement and strong public opinion against the dowry system. The
movement should spread to villages and every nook and corner of the country. Government
and NGOs should be involved in the movement against the course.
 Government should take program to available the legal services and ensure victims

It is common to see people rejoicing over the birth of a son and lamenting over the birth of
daughter. In Bangladesh, the reason why people prefer male children over female children is
mainly due to cultural practices such as dowry. Poverty, illiteracy, narrow mentality, negative
attitude to the women, dependence on husband and living on their income, social corruption etc.
are the main cause of dowry. Dowry-related violence is in part caused by a misplaced get rich
quick mentality whereby dowries are seen as the perfect instrument for upward material mobility.
Middle and upper class as well as better-educated grooms demand huge dowries. Often, even after
the payment of a dowry, the husband or their families may demand more money or goods.
No doubt, the laws remain stringent. But a dowry death is a relatively easier crime than murder to
prosecute and so the crime continuous.
It is true that a social problem like dowry cannot act, as legal measures along cannot curb dowry
problems. What is needed is a change of attitude of society towards girls and boys. They must be
treated and be educated equally. Laws are also needed to be stringently implemented. The public
voluntary organization and the society as a whole should have to rise against age old evil practice
and try to curb this menace.
Now, the Government has enacted a law to check the system of dowry in our country. Demand for
dowry has become a cognizable offence. A groom demanding dowry can be criminally prosecuted.
But it is not enough. A man demanding rich dowry should be debarred from holding a Government
job, as in the case of a man having more than one wife.
 Men should not think that the dowry as the easiest way to get rich, to get property.
 We are equal in all ways and in all means. For any home, both Man and Woman are equally
 Man should invite wife into his life with whole heart, love and care but not about the money
or property tag from her.
 If men decide not to take dowry then it will be big support to the women and also helps to
raise their voice, can fight for equality.
 Above all, the youth must be given freedom to choose their life partners.


“Dowry, Women, and Law in Bangladesh”

Dear Respondents,
We the students of Leading University of Business Administration are conducting a survey and
herby request you to fill up the questionnaire. The information provided by you will be kept strictly
confidential and will be used for academic purpose only.

Please put a tick (√) in appropriate brackets.

1. Name: Mr./Mrs./Ms.

2. Age: [in year]

a. Below 18 b. 18-25 n
b t
c. 26-35 d. 36-50
a n
e. 50 and above n tr
n en
k t
3. Gender: re
i e n
a. Male n b.rnFemale eb
g n
n tat
4. Marital status: , e b
e en
m t akr
a. Married b.rIb unmarried In
o n in
b n
a ken
5. Educational Qualification: e
i tn n
a. Primary l b.ekbSecondary tn
ri egm
e a an
c. Higher secondary d.nGraduate r,o
b In
eg Itn
e. Post graduate. a F.nkt,I 0 ekb
n it itr
m tb
6. Occupation: n
en lenn
k ao b
rn ireget
i b
e, Service holder albe
a. Student b. n ,n
n ikr I n
eaeb r
iln Day n laborer m
c. Business/ Trade g d. kb
n n
to I to
a en t iake
e. Unemployed e.gbt Others b n
e b
n n
ai, Itr
d a
b gknb
l n
n e li
t ae n
n ,iga
ko tre e
kn m
h ib et
ik n
b o
gn k
e a reb
n an
in b
in n
gl ta
r ,ke eb kt
ag n ldg
7. Monthly Income [Tk]:
a. Below 1,000 b. 1,000-5,000 I
n n
c. 5,000-10,000 d. Above 10,000
It t
8. Social Class: en e
tr r
a. Lower class b. Lower en middle class n
Ir e
c. Middle class d. nUpper
In middle class It
tte b
9. Do you know what is dowry?enb n
a. Yes en
b. nNo en
r a kr
b ek b in
10. Are you a victim of dowry system? n
a tik a n
en e
a. Yes n b. bNo
itg n gt
kb a k ,b
bn , giving Dowry? b
11. Are you in favor of taking
ia n
and m
ag ai a
km , o
a. Yes n
n n
b. iNo o nn n
gk km g kb
b nb o b k
12. Is Dowry system a serious ,i i
issue or not?
am gb a i, ln
nl m
n , n
a. Yes n
b. No
gie no ge
gk ml,b g b
k ,
13. Why it is given by women? b
,i oe b,b am
m i
aim bab am i n
n ohouse safely and withnhonor. o
a. They can live at her husbands’ ln
o in a n ol kb
kb lkn k
ii b
b. Lack of women's Education ,b e
i ,b b
ii lk ii ln a
m bn m ge b
c. Women’s craze for the lgold–ornaments a
n eg i n la n
o an o a ak
eb b a g en b
d. Aspiration to Marry in k,High and n b ban
b agn Rich Family ,b k a n
n ikin
ii ka ii d kb
al the women n d m a n n
e. Negative attitude towards in l t g, iag
n k t o nn k
eg nd e h mo
ih has lowered thebkgstatus of i the b
14. Do you think that dowry kb
g b e
,bilewomen in our society?
n t
e n agk
iai ah i ia m
a. Yes a b. g
No i a i
g n
ln ne ln n
n a r n r
a kin
e b d e b d n
15. Do you think that poverty g
kt and
nie illiteracy are the mainkt g causes n b
e gio of dowry system?
ai a t b a a x giand
drx ih d n
a. Yes h
ann b. hNo e ann p ,lthe
n t p n t
n e n k e e ige
16. Apart from the illiteracy gib hxe and poverty, how b
g d
much h m iror to what extent, social
ktia ip
e c kiati ce ,lo b
unconsciousness is responsible ar r
for dowry system. ar exp
ihn n it e n
inh i eb
t aect
eegk ec n e a o
n r n g
kde c. nonein r
a Severe d xat
b. less te ati b
xgi, e g,iix
itb pta t b i ons b
rhm xi a m rp x in eion
na et n
h ae o lk a
eeo p p
ecgn co i
no gene n
Int n
e e iag e
d ,k tn db , x
s ern
co c b n k
tpim asn tim o n aet 51
rai to rip t agk i
h ts hloea n n
n an en a and n
a n
tee i et
17. Do you think it is because of Dowry parents don't give birth to girl child?
a. Yes b. No
18. Is Dowry system an obstacle in higher educationbof girls?
a a
a. Yes n b. No n
kb kb
19. What is the main reason ia
of exercising dowry? ia
a. Greed n
n b. Need n
gk gk
c. Custom b d. Compulsion b
,i ,i
a a
n m
20. Domestic violence against b
n women are greatly caused b
n by dowry system. Do you agree?
gak o
a. Yes b
,n b. No b
i i
im im
22. In spite of having anti bkn dowry law or dowry prohibition bkn Act 1980. Why it is increasing in
lo lo
aig aig
our society. eb eb
n, n,
i b
Give your comments……………………………………………………………………… g
al al
i,o i,o
23. Do you think or support n
enm that actually govt. has failed n
enm to tackle this problem?
b b
kb kb
a. Yes go i b. No go i
ia ia
,b l ,b l
n n
24. Should the government m ie make existing laws stronger m ie and take strict actions against Dowry
k l
b ago
k lb
ibea an
a. Yes kn
ib n b. No kn
ib n
iglak d
26. Preferably who can control b the expansion of dowry b system?
aaen tn
i i
n gh
a. youth nk
b b. government nk
e,d e,d
kaigb kaigb
c. NGOs im
tina d. parents im
o a rha
e. bride kgn b
n f. all above kgn b
eeb eebn
giad i
g ad
xk xkb
27. Will you insist on 'Noi,bnti Dowry' in your marriage?i,nti
rlm p
rlm a
gad h
kn gd h
a Yes een b. No een n c. Maybe
o aiteg
b cxk
28. Would you like to suggest bkh
n i any reforms in Dowrynbtbhii, system? b
tap,i a
idagerm idagerm a
Make comments………………………………………………………………………………… an
eltn aen
,ei lt,eio n n
tkco t
cekrxm g
h h k
Thank iitb
,b you for your cooperation i
eio p
i eio
b p
aain m o
el aib n
el n
gtn n
t o
rgo p
ci rgp
n ci g
Dowry Greed Leads saie,b to Heinous Deeds…Come saieb , Together, Prevent This
, Worry
keltb keltb
n o
n i
im icea
a xo
im cea
n lb n
n l
n t po
n t
b o
Itsn e Itsn eb
gaik b geaik b
aib to
n i 52
tenila tenail l
n tkin
 http://narijibon.blogspot.com/2008/01/dowry-system-in-bangladesh.html
 http://forum.daffodilvarsity.edu.bd/index.php?topic=5376.0
 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228279152_Dowry_Women_and_Law_in_
 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dowry-domestic-violence-bangladesh-hasanul-
 http://www.daily-sun.com/post/219735/Dowry:-A-Social-Evil
 https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/sajia-beauty/posts/10746
 http://www.tourtobangladesh.com/Dowry-system.php
 http://miurs.manarat.ac.bd/download/vol01/10.pdf
 http://en.banglapedia.org/index.php?title=Dowry
 https://brightkite.com/essay-on/dowry-syatem-in-bangladesh
 http://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1771&context=jiws
 https://www.cpd.org.bd/pub_attach/unfpa20.pdf
 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0262728006071707
 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja
 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228279152_Dowry_Women_and_Law_in_
 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja


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