As I was visiting Blogging 101 Commons today, I came across this interesting post on Mummy Got You A Daddy. She is a strong woman who comes from Zimbabwe and currently lives in South Africa with her children and husband who wants to adopt her children. I recommend you to read that wonderful post. I came to learn about the custom of Lobola in Zimbabwe where parents of a girl should be given an amount of money by a man in order to marry their daughter.
It immediately struck me as a custom very similar to dowry in India. From female feticide to torturing and murdering innocent woman dowry has been a great villain in Indian society. A society which has been patriarchal at large considered women a liability and an object to be used. That is why a man and family who used to take the responsibility needed to be bribed for doing so. I have been reminded of benign beginnings of custom of dowry which started as parents of girls giving gifts to newlywed for making them settle well after marriage since they were going start a new family. But why only family of the girl used to give large parts of gifts? Because they were mostly settling with the family of the man using their resources so it was considered a great help on part of the girl’s family. With the passage of time this custom became so degenerated and ugly that the birth of a girl was looked doubly down upon in a culture which already used to deride it. Girl was not going to be of use for the family she was born in and now arranging for her marriage is a great trouble added upon it–a large sum of money is needed if she is to be wed into a decent family–what a burden! So, she has to live as a burden in the family of her birth and has to bear perpetual cursing and torture in the family she is going to get married into. Most of the women used to think it was evil Karma which caused their birth as women.
With various reforms and dowry act the situation has improved a great deal and will keep improving as society becomes more educated and thoughtful, still to say that the situation has completely improved will be an exaggeration. Birth of a girl child is still looked down upon in Indian society and it’s not just because of the dowry. Dowry is still a very big player in settling marriages and fathers of sons consider it an asset for their family and count on it. Families with many girls still have nightmares about their marriages.
I recently read in the Facebook sidebar news section(I don’t follow news) about Supreme Court of India passing an act which allows women to reclaim the dowry they brought at the time of marriage, in full, in case of divorce. I will leave repercussions of it as a food for thought for the learned reader. I feel customs like Lobola and Dowry must be abolished altogether if a society is to be called healthy. Can parents in India imagine that something polar opposite of dowry exists in another country? Can parents in Zimbabwe imagine that a custom which is polar opposite of lobola exists in India? Whatever happens to their profound reasonings behind the customs their society has so ardently been following, if they do? I feel the lack of reason was the prime cause in following the baneful customs in the first place!
image courtesy: here