You’re getting married to a guy. So you pack up all your belongings, leave your parents & home behind and go live with your husband and his family. Oh, and you have to take along a laptop, fridge, AC, car and whatever else your new family asks for, because God forbid “khaali haath beti ko bhejdiya toh log kya kahaingay?”
Sounds a little absurd, right? Well, so is the tradition of dowry which oddly enough still prevails in our society.
In a country like Pakistan where patriarchy and male privilege (conveniently disguised as chivalry) thrive, the tradition of dowry just makes matters worse. Parents who’re blessed with a baby girl have to start worrying about her marriage and dowry because the archaic tradition is so deeply rooted in our society that it has become compulsory. In a country where we need to empower and educate women, the troublesome tradition of dowry just takes us a couple dozen steps backwards.
“Jo aap apni khushi se dena chahen, dedain” is what is typically said during the iniital discussions about the wedding where neither sides want to use the dirty word of jahaiz. However, rather than just sending the daughter off with clothes and things that she’ll need in her new house, the girl’s parents feel obligated to GIFT their daughter everything that a new house needs. In times like these of course investment in her education takes a backseat as parents stress out about how to afford the car that her in-laws have hinted at asked for.
One might argue that the concept of dowry hasn’t originated from Pakistan or India, but unfortunately both the countries have not only embraced the tradition but aggressively enforce it as well. Every year there are over 2000 dowry related deaths in Pakistan where brides are killed for not bringing enough with them. Hundreds of women stay unmarried only because the parents can’t afford the dowry that has been demanded.
But times are changing and people are understanding the negative impact of dowry. Orient Pakistan’s latest TVC highlights exactly that. It delivers a very important message when the groom refuses to take dowry by putting forth the logic “meray ghar ki cheezon k liye paisay aap kyun dain?” What’s commendable about this TVC is that even though the fact that dowry is a curse is something that we all understand but very few brands actually talk about it. This is the first time a brand has chosen to educate the audience and address the issue itself.
So what can we do about it? Bring #RishtonMeinInnovation! If you want your daughter to be happy in her new home, make sure she has a good upbringing, education and send her off with lots of love/respect. It’s about time we stop putting a price on our daughters and start saying NO to dowry!