Dowry socially accepted form of gender based violence


To demand effective anti-dowry legislation and to express solidarity with the observance of National Dowry Day against Dowry, a small group of concerned people from different walks of life gathered at Al Babar Centre on Thursday.

The participants termed dowry a socially accepted form of gender based violence which affects both men and women. They lit candles to show their support for the victims of this mindset and demanded all stakeholders to play their role in eradication of this tradition. They agreed that due attention has not been paid so far to this very grave and striking human rights and women rights issue at the policy level. They urged the government to start commemorating the day at national level.

Speaking on this occasion, eminent rights activist Tahira Abdullah said that to eradicate the curse of ‘jahez’ and ‘walwar’ (dowry and bride-price) and dowry-based violence against w omen, a multi-dimensional approach is required, including strong anti-dowry legislation which ought to be enabling not draconian-punitive as that would be unenforceable, combined with the enforcement of women’s inheritance rights.

She also suggested sensitively handled media advocacy campaigns, enforcement of Constitutional Article 25-A, i.e. universal, compulsory and free education for all girls and boys up to the age of 16 minimum and most important the revision of school curricula and textbooks to inculcate respect for girls and women’s inalienable human rights to dignity, empowerment and a life free of gender-based violence and insecurity. “There can be no better dowry then providing best education the girls,” said Tahira.

Researcher and activist Naheed Aziz condemned the extravagant marriages by rich class and said that vulgar display of wealth by the rich on weddings creates social trends which are then followed by middle and lower middle class. Sighting the example of the famous wedding of Anush and Munib, she suggested that the rich not to flaunt their wealth this way.

Rights activist Rabea Hadi talked urged the government to legislate against the commercial elements attached to dowry. She also suggested PEMRA to check commercials and television programmes promoting dowry and extravagance at the weddings.

Founder of Fight against Dowry Advocacy Network Rakhshinda Perveen highlighted the fact that dowry violence has always been neglected in the initiatives and campaigns designed around the issue of violence against women. “It happens mainly because of the commercial interests attached with this tradition.” She said that dowry is the most accepted form of violence against women.

According to her research and global understanding, dowry is a multi-faceted deep-rooted gender issue with social, economic and health consequences.  She pointed out that in Pakistan, in spite of a consensus on disliking the practice, only a few have the courage to disown it.

While dowry is practiced in many different of the world, dowry-related violence is most prevalent in South Asia, in the nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The most common forms of dowry-related violence are battering, marital rape, acid throwing, wife burning, and other forms of violence. Perpetrators may also use methods of starvation, deprivation of clothing, evictions, and false imprisonment as a method of extortion. They often use violence disguised as suicides or accidents, such as stove or kerosene disasters, to burn or kill women for failing to meet dowry demands.