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The Dowry System in Pakistan: A Curse on Families and Society

Irma Abbasi
Freelance Writer

جہیز ایک لعنت ہے
दहेज एक अभिशाप है

“Any young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonors womanhood.”
“Who chooses a wife based on the dowry, will have a painful life.
“Dowry is not a gift, it’s a curse in disguise.”
“True love doesn’t come with a price tag, refuse dowry.”
“Break the chains of dowry, let every woman be free.”
“Marriages should be based on love, not on monetary transactions.”
“Equal partnerships don’t require dowry, they require love and respect.”

Jahez Remains A Repulsive Tradition In Pakistan And The Broader Region


The dowry system, deeply rooted in cultural traditions, has become a cause of concern in
various societies, notably in Pakistan and neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh. This age-old
practice involves the exchange of gifts or money from the bride’s family to the groom’s family upon
marriage. While seemingly innocent, the dowry system has evolved into a social menace, leading to severe
consequences for the less fortunate families involved.
1. Understanding Dowry: The dowry, traditionally intended to provide financial support to the
newlyweds, has transformed into a burdensome custom. In today’s context, it often takes the
form of excessive demands, putting immense pressure on the bride’s family.
2. The Perils for Poor Families: The dowry system exacerbates financial challenges for impoverished
families. Struggling to make ends meet, these families find themselves caught in a vicious cycle,
forced to take loans to meet exorbitant dowry demands. This financial strain becomes a significant
obstacle to the marriage of their daughters, leading to the unfortunate reality that some young
girls remain unmarried due to the lack of dowry.

3. Exploitation of Brides: As marriages unfold, the groom’s family frequently demands dowries
beyond the means of the bride’s family. This places an undue burden on the bride, and instances
of mental and physical abuse become prevalent, tarnishing the sanctity of the marital bond.
4. Impact on Mental Health: The repercussions of inadequate dowry or non-compliance with
unreasonable demandstake a toll on the mental health of brides. Constant taunts and abuse from
in-laws create an environment of fear and anxiety, leading to long-term psychological issues.
5. Societal Consequences: The dowry system perpetuates a cycle of financial instability and social
inequality. Families, unable to meet the escalating demands, are often unable to marry off their
daughters, contributing to a widening gap in society.
6. The Need for Awareness: To combat this deep-rooted issue, it is imperative to raise awareness
about the harmful impacts of the dowry system. Initiatives must be taken to educate communities
on the consequences of perpetuating this tradition.
7. Standing Against the Curse: Communities should unite to eradicate this curse from society.
Advocacy for legal reforms, counseling services, and support networks can help victims break free
from the clutches of the dowry system.The dowry system is a great evil that still exists in Pakistan
Conclusion: The dowry system, once a symbol of familial support, has transformed into a curse plaguing
societies in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and beyond. It is crucial to recognize the severe consequences
faced by impoverished families and brides alike. By standing against this deeply ingrained tradition and
fostering awareness, societies can work towards creating a future where marriages are based on love and
companionship rather than material exchanges. The acknowledgment that some young girls remain
unmarried due to the lack of dowry emphasizes the urgency of addressing this issue for the betterment
of society as a whole.

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