Addressing dowry practises in Pakistan

Dowry is an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband upon their mar­riage. Alongside other social trib­ulations, it is one of the most sig­nificant problems in Pakistan. Its prevalence is not limited to illit­erate people; even educated indi­viduals in Pakistan are involved in this practise. Different groups have their own perspectives and fears regarding dowry. 

It is often argued that dowry serves as a gift that assists mar­ried couples in practical life, es­tablishes the importance of wom­en within their in-laws, enhances their decision-making power, and acts as a safeguard against mari­tal problems. However, the most common reason is the fear of soci­etal rejection, which may discour­age the practise. Despite this, it acts as discrimination in the lives of unmarried girls and proves to be misery for their families amidst the current inflation in Pakistan.

Ninety-five percent of Pakistani marriages involve dowry trans­fers, resulting in 2,000 dowry-re­lated deaths annually. Disruptive anti-dowry laws, such as the 1996, 1997, and 1998 Family Court Acts and the 2008 Dowry and Mar­riage Gifts Restriction Bill, restrict dowries to PKR 30,000 and brid­al gifts to PKR 50,000. Even the phrase “Jahaiz Aik Lanat,” com­monly heard in our daily lives, is rarely implemented.

To prevent dowry in Pakistan, the focus should be on education, legal measures, promoting gen­der equality, empowering women, financial literacy, cultural change, community engagement, premar­ital counselling, media influence, and reporting mechanisms. These efforts should involve the gov­ernment, organisations, families, and individuals to promote equal treatment, empower women, and reduce reliance on dowry as a fi­nancial safety net.



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