Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dowry an Evil, Crime or Tradition?

Thousands got burned, and millions presented life time sacrifice in different ages and times; but flame of ruthless dowry is burning with never ending fuel of so called ego and traditions.

This article addresses contemporary hot issue of dowry, its history and different formation of same practice separated by time, space and cultures

Dowry an Evil? Crime? or Tradition?

By: Prof. Ayesha Kashif

Tradition of making payments at time of wedding is older than any written records. Although in some societies and cultures, there exist rules related to “Bride Price”. Bride Price is contrasted with dowry; it is amount of money paid to bride or her family at time of marriage. Where dowry is money or assets that bride brings with her. Another arrangement termed as “dower” has several alterations in different cultures; but popularly it is amount of money paid from husband’s property or by state in case female is widowed.

Anciently, dowry has been considered as more respectable arrangement than bride price. It differs in cultures, but both traditions “bride price” and “dowry” may exist in some. Reason dowry was considered more respectful was that; “bride price” used to be calculated as slave girl’s market price. Or as compensation of total labor hours that she could contribute to her parent family.

Whereas dowry was considered to be a gift given by wealthy family of women; but with time it escalated such that higher the amount of dowry, more respectable wedding arrangement would be considered. It could also be considered that it is to snub barbaric nature of male by providing even more food to his barbarism. It is commonly believed that higher amount of dowry may ensure that husband or his family will not ill treat the bride. In social war of keeping high esteem, standard expectations of dowry have increased many folds.

In Pakistani society; except few areas in North, ancient tradition of dowry is practiced and it is well known to majority of educated class. That it is aged tradition; that may have more implications than benefits. But there exists very few to have courage to challenge this tradition. I am trying to point few most common window dressed arguments that fall in favor of dowry.

- Young men cannot afford to settle with their new family

- To have peaceful life for bride, it is important to buy her house

- Everyone does this, and our daughter shall have more dowry than anyone else did

- It presents how much we love our daughter

- It compensates, less share that females get in parent’s property inheritance

- Socially desire act cannot be stopped; what will other say about it?

If all above arguments are right, then how come few societies have practiced “bride price” instead of dowry?

It may be considered as simple principle of supply & demand of both genders. Where exists more men; and less wealthy women; societies may practice “bride price”. Here men shall pay price as gift/ compensation to bride’s family to get married. Whereas societies having more women and less wealthy men; to make lucky match. Dowry is practiced. But we cannot control gender balance in society; how can we judge what is better for society? Dowry or Dower?

Where is the balance?

Majority of the poor class families still think in this cruel way that "If I don’t kill her today; tomorrow she will kill me financially or someone else will burn her for the sake of dowry," this is the reason; why millions of women are put to death; even today, especially in Indian society.

Dowry is one extreme; due to which we observe every day stories; where old man depletes all his resources that shall help him live comfortable last days of his life, in favor of his beloved young daughter.

This is why time is back; when daughter is born; and her father start calculating heavy financially burden that lies over his shoulders. It is not only with lower socio-economic class. Our educated class too is not educated. Our religion advocates, birth of female child as blessing. And fathers will be rewarded heavens for bringing up female child without discrimination. But we consider them as obligation and punishment from God.

Muslim fathers shall not be burdened with dowry, instead young men shall give women their obligatory gift (Haq Mehar) ; happily as presentation of their promised love. Nikah is considered to be simple ceremony, with few close invites and witnesses. And party thrown by groom (Waleema) is grand feast in celebration of wedding. Though, increased amount of financial burden over groom (dower /gift to bride) can cost several problems for societies too. This is why it is recommended in Islamic Religion “The best of the marriages is one which is least burdensome in the financial sense to the families of the bride and the groom"

Alas! Such nice principles we have forgotten in place of outdated traditions that we have borrowed from societies we have lived with. I am ashamed to state that; in depth of our heart, today daughters are considered as burden & curse.

We very happily consider gift to bride (Haq Mehar) as optional or extra; where dowry is accepted as mandatory practice. For Mehar applies no financial formulas, no inflation adjusters. But for all our routine life we do. Please think, where we are leading our society? Today again evil of dowry compels us to feel happy to have son, and sorrow to have daughter. Allah’s appreciated practice of Nikah is becoming challenging task for families; due to which arise many unacceptable problems that is polluting our society.

Opposite Attracts? (Marriage Age Difference)

This article not only address attraction of opposite genders, but also of opposite age groups as well. Please have a read; and express your thoughts about it.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together


Is That the Opposite That Attracts?

By: Prof. Ayesha Kashif

It may sound taboo to many, and few may find surprised when exposed to this topic. But there exists humans who find more attraction in older age opposite gender than younger ones or people of their own age group. To start with; this attitude has been significantly noticed in females that they tend to get attracted towards mature men than their age fellows. It needs to be understood that “Age-Gap” primarily is a taboo because societies by and large find it oppose to their norm. And social norms arise from practices that majority exercise. Because majority exercise one practice, since inception of societies they tend to snub opposing norms as it tends to threaten stronger group’s freedom.

Even as per definition of “Norm” or “Normal”, it is known to be something “Usual”. Which mean, exercised by majority; although this does not mean that all exceptions are harmful? Majority of humans get attracted to opposite gender of their own age band. In our society it is even desired that male shall always have partner at least 2 to 4 years younger in age.

Having said this; it even seems acceptable in societies like ours; if female get married to person 10 or 15 years older than her. Although; it does become issue in many families; it has been found that females in their young age crave for higher financial security and emotional stability. Few cases have been reported, where females fell in love with their father’s friend, where girl age in her 20s and male in 40s. It is normally the case with females; who wish to be distinguished; or compete with their other female mates. They wish to feel; that their partner is financially stronger, stable and mature in feelings with respect to other boys, who appear so immature and childish in comparison.

Not only this; dominance of role also emit aroma that causes magnetic attraction. Research shows that many females who fell in love with older men, they were in stronger social role. For example, Young girls fall in love with their Teachers, Bosses or Professors especially if their physical appeal is attractive and their thoughts are impressive enough to die for. On other hand, mature men definitely find blossoming pretty young girls more attractive and tend to get along well.

It is not always fascinating and enjoyable in the longer run. These young girls expect allot of time from their partner, where their mature partners tend to be “busy”. And due to their busy routine, they fail to enjoy great time together in comparison of normal couple that spend more time together in initial days and grow mature together with time. Girls tend to get either too insecure about their mature partners, or find them busy all the time. Other than that; with time mature men align other responsibilities i.e. wife, kids, business, job, relatives, etc. Majority of the males extend greater effort to be in touch till they attain girl. Once attained, their top priority stays their career which is their identity. So my advice to girls is; please be very careful when you decide to couple with mature men. You may find short run satisfaction of being too secure and financially powerful. You may enjoy his dominance for a while; but this too may become a little depressing and irritating in the longer run. Other than this; these mature men know from start what they want, and what they do not. Please realize now what you really want; because this aura of his personality style, financial strength or position may become too redundant for you after ten years.

It seems quite understandable so far unless another twist steps in. Being a psychologist I have come across a lot of cases where young boys, who tend to fall in love with elder and mature women. They claim to have no attraction in young females, or females of their own age group; rather they like aged women. To say; a 24years old boy will like females in their 30s or even 40s. Subjects find it very difficult to express their feelings because of social pressures and taboos; other than that, they even question themselves as why they like older women more? If they are not aware of fact; they might be overgrown within, or they might have attained maturity before age. But to answer this surprise; such males who are early matured, they also find themselves little miss fit with their course mates / class mates in routine activities. They find maturity in their own thoughts and consider their mates to be quite childish and stupid. With that; they unconsciously believe mature women to be more understanding and easier to handle. Apart from this; they do find elegance and grace in older women. Other than that “Grass is always greener on the other side of fence”. Males find it impossible to couple with older women; this is added reason of feeling greater attraction towards elderly females. Moreover it is one of the most powerful human motives that we are always fascinated by the things that seems to be difficult or impossible to attain. For example a person who can afford to buy a Toyota Corolla will always be more attracted towards a Mercedes or BMW which is out of his financial reach.

Not all such arrangements have been found unsuccessful; but males find them challenged soon when they cross mid thirty. As many young females tend to get attracted to them; and their partner may not appeal that pretty any more. Many suffer from feel of guilt; and emotionally challenged as at that point they cannot leave their partner who have already aged.

Message here is not to condemn those who may fall in love with someone with greater age-gap. It is just to make everyone realize that there may exist exceptions; we shall respect everyone’s opinion and feelings. We cannot convince anyone to change his/her feelings for anyone, as it is usually said that “there is no logic in love”. Apart from it; those who do like someone with increased age gap shall consider advises given above before finally stepping ahead.