I know all of you might be shocked by the title, after all these years of anti-dowry movement and understanding the ill-effects of dowry in marriages this is surely a shocker for everyone. I have stopped being politically correct and started exposing the social hypocrisy in the name of women empowerment and hence this article.
No, I am neither talking about those honey wrapped definition of dowry in arranged marriages that says – Dowry is a property right given to the daughters on marriages by their parents nor the popular politically correct MRA definition that it is actually stridhan that is given to the wife but termed as dowry per her convenience later.
At the outset, let me clarify that I no longer consider matrimonial relation as a holy relationship. The popular Hindu belief that says we have tied our knot in heaven and our relation is actually immortal. Even though Indian marriages still have Saat Phera with fire or Agnidev as a witness. This may be legally accepted procedure of Hindu Marriage but our religious interference ends there. After this ritual everything that sustain in an Indian marriage is legal. If it was not, then our divorce proceedings would have been conducted with Agnidev as witness and we taking reverse phera around Him to untie the wedlock as the pioneer of Indian MRM Mr. Radhikanath Mallick once commented.
Since Indian marriage is only a legal ritual, let’s talk about acceptable marriage per Hindu marriage laws and how this relationship transpires to Indian Marriages.
Today, we may not have a pre-nup agreement valid in Indian Marriages but WCD ministry is creating a pre-nup to ensure alimony for the wife. To top it all WCD minister is also trying to give single mothers tax benefits. This is on top of existing sections for women empowerment to claim maintenance and alimony (mind it, a man does not get tax benefit on the income paid to wife as maintenance or alimony) being a part in divorces including the mutual consent (MCD) ones. This is further established by judgements from various courts allowing maintenance to working wives under the pretext of maintaining their living standards at the same level as that when they were married.
To argue in favour of this condition of ensuring maintenance or financial security for the wife, feminists have been giving reasons including those from Saptapadi (matrimonial vows taken by the couple in an Indian wedding). But, whenever it came to reminding women of their marriage vows everybody became silent. If those marriage vows were observed ever then any adulterous wives should have been punished, any woman going against the husband or not taking care of her family should have also been punished.
Under politically correct definition of a Hindu marriage it is considered a crime to remind women of any of their duties and I am here to break that jinx.
My definition of dowry for the purpose of this article is the definition that is considered a crime in India – “Money or articles other than gifts given by the bride side to the groom’s side in connection of marriage”.
Under legally accepted norms in India any such exchange of money or articles other than gifts is a crime for both sides (even though feminists are trying to make giving dowry as no crime). So in a legally accepted Indian marriage the man gets a house for his family, makes all necessary arrangements and interior done, builds all conveniences for the girl he is going to marry without knowing whether the girl will take care of any of her responsibilities after marriage.
When we look at a girl’s responsibility after marriage we don’t find any and hence it becomes dependent on individual’s perception of responsibility. Some may consider taking care of household work is her responsibility whereas some others may not. Some may consider being faithful to the husband and his family is her responsibility and raising his and only his children is her responsibility but some others may not. And none of these women are actually considered an offender under any section of existing Hindu legal norms. (even though they are offenders under Hindu religious norms).
Hindu marriage that is a legal contract (as explained above) is silent about the responsibilities of one party (wife) completely. Whereas it spells out every minute responsibility of the husband. That is why all different laws are made to ensure that the husband never ignores his duties. This however is the cause of all marriage problems.
Considering marriage of an average IT employee middle class Hindu man in his thirties we understand that he is forced to expenses like buying a good flat (Rs. 50 lakh or 5 Million) in a metro city, interior (additional 5-10 lakhs) is the prerequisite of a marriage. So a Hindu boy in his thirties is forced to invest at least 5-6 million before his marriage (any gifts . jewelry given to the bride or family is extra). After marriage he is supposed to take care of the wife completely with no expectation whatsoever from her or her family (as that is considered dowry). So no matter whether the wife is employed or is from a well-to-do family – a man is expected to take care of all his expenses. Under present day conditions existing in India any average two person family in a city will need 20-30 K for somewhat decent living considering the wife does not overspend.
Over and above these expenses are the occasional expenses like her family function, travels and other medical conditions to her or her family members, if applicable. The expenses can reach anywhere upwards 4 lakhs annually. While the husband is forced to meet budgetary expenses for his marriage, the wife comes with no liability for herself. In turn, legally it is considered that the good living conditions that the husband might have provided to her during their marriage is supposed to be continued even after separation and hence he continues to pay her without getting or expecting any of her services.
This in a way clarifies that Indian women are made parasites by the Hindu legal system and with addition of every women empowering family law, WCD ministry is just reinforcing this point. With no protest whatsoever from women, makes the point that they enjoy this situation of unnecessary benefits and want to ride on hard earned income of someone else. This is reinforced by working divorced women claiming alimony from their husbands.
At this outset let me also clarify that Hindu Laws don’t force working women to contribute in their family’s expenses and I have seen many divorces due to the reason husband expected his earning wife to contribute in their family.
So this becomes clear that a woman has no financial liability in a marriage and all liability goes to the man for trying to have a family. So it is completely based on chance for him that his wife takes care of his family, do not have sex outside marriage, or raise his children with proper care and affection. Given the fact that there is no criteria or quality measure for these services and in most modern households these services are often outsourced to maids or ayas (paid by the husband again) the wife becomes complete liability with high cost attached outside the marriage records.
So, if men consider women as parasites or leeches that become obvious. I am sure no one likes this kind of image for oneself and hence the respectable solution to this problem is to consider women as really equal partners in a marriage and making sure of their equal contribution to the marriage. Not only before a Hindu marriage but also after the same in monthly household expenses, in daily workload sharing or otherwise.
Currently this is considered as dowry under Indian law. But if this financial contribution from women is ensured in pre-nupital agreement that the govt is trying to bring, only then women will be treated really equally. Since this will be covered by an agreement (pre-nup), their initial share (after adjusting for depreciation) may be given back to them in case of a divorce or marriage problems. However, monthly family running expenses that are consumed by both may not be shared.
By making dowry a criminal offence, feminists have also blocked chances of many not so good looking or average women from getting married. Today there are increasing number of women who are in their late thirties or early forties and looking for soulmates but not able to get married. Since everyone understand taking or giving dowry is a crime, no one talks about the same; men do not like these women and also get concerned whether these women will ever contribute to their family after marriage in addition to being a liability to them and hence these women never get married.
Many such women, in their late ’30s who were good looking in their prime (but are not so good looking today) told me that they are not able to get married when they contacted me for my second marriage. They had very high expectations about their partners and found no boys meeting their criteria and slowly lost their value in marriage market. Some of the girls I met will probably never be able to get married and they don’t realize it is because of the feminists’ created high expectations that had ruined their lives. Earlier these women could have got married by giving dowry, today they can’t get married at all. No matter if they are highly earning and have intention to contribute in their family. Who knows they will not raise that contribution as dowry and will send their husband to jail afterwards.
Overall, the dowry menace was not dealt with well by any of our govt. Women can never be empowered by shunning all their responsibilities. Only some good looking women may win but a large number will be losers. It is time for everyone to realize that.