Speakers on Thursday demanded formulation of laws prohibiting the custom of dowry in the country.
They were attending a meeting of the Fight Against Dowry Advocacy Network (Fadan), a new effort to mobilise young people to stand up against the ‘ancient social custom that often leads to class-based social stigmas, matrimonial disharmony and most importantly, domestic violence against women’.
Society for the Advancement of Community, Health, Education and Training (Sachet) Pakistan Executive Director Dr Rakshinda Perveen said though many Pakistanis claim dowry is an Indian custom that was culturally adopted by Muslims of South Asia, they do not realise that India has a law that prohibits dowry. “The Indian government made that law because of high prevalence of dowry-related domestic violence incidents,” she said.
She said similar legal support was required against dowry in Pakistan.
The dowry is usually prepared by the bride’s parents and the items mostly depend on demands set by the bridegroom’s family.
Participants — which included lawyers, social activists, and students — said societal pressures force young people of marriageable age into the trap of dowry.
They said the patriarchal setup of our society does not allow women to have a strong position among the in-laws until she brings sufficient dowry.
Many divorce or khula disputes are caused by dowry issues, they said.
Zahra Naqvi, an architect and activist, said the core concept of dowry in Islam is not about demand or greed but about parents setting up their daughter for her future life in a modest way. She said this original concept could be used as a basic argument in awareness campaigns for the masses.
Mehreen Liaquat of Rozan, an NGO advocating women rights, said awareness and legislation could go side by side. “Just like a hammer is needed to fix a nail in the wall, a law is needed to curb dowry related violence,” Liaquat said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2013.