”Allah naseeb achay karay” – the phrase that signifies the birth of a girl child in Pakistan. These words are uttered even before a basic congratulations, because unfortunately in patriarchal societies, this is what woman needs the most.
Right from the first birthday, the parents start saving penny by penny for her dowry – or should I say, to attach a financial label with their daughter. Because no matter how capable, educated and talented she is, when she is tying the knot, the people are only going to see the materials or in the decent vocabulary, the ‘gifts’ you are giving her.
25 years old Takreem’s henna was still fresh on her hands when she was brought to Daska Civil Hospital, taking her last few breaths. Her stomach was riddled with holes. Only three weeks after she was married, her in-laws forced her to drink acid. They fled the scene.
The reason for this brutality was that when her parents were sending her to the new home, they only had their prayers for her and couldn’t offer anything more than that. This was the second case that happened only 5 days after Aneeba Shehzadi, 26, was poisoned by her husband in Daska. Why? Because the couple had a dispute over dowry.
And of course, when you can’t offer the bride price with the bride – what do with a living, breathing human alone?
KPK saw a horrifying incident in 2015, where a man shot his fiance and her 9 other relatives over a dowry dispute. 22 years old Madiha was beaten regularly and was finally doused with petrol because she couldn’t bring a motorbike with her. And the list goes on.
Pakistan kills an average of 2000 women in the name of dowry every single year. With the rate of 2.45 per 100,000 women, beating India, Iran, and Bangladesh, Pakistan stands number one in dowry deaths – a fact enough to lower our heads in shame.
But we are ‘brave’ audacious people who will defend every evil of the society just for the sake of it. The entire UN Women’s Anti-dowry campaign was turned into memes and mockery, for a few minutes of entertainment, sabotaging its core purpose. Few came up with the argument that if the dowry is unacceptable, asking for man’s salary should be too! And yes, that is exactly why we need to fight against patriarchy.
Men have to bear the entire financial burden of the families because patriarchal structures see women incapable of it and confine them inside the four walls, doing home chores, bearing children. That is exactly what we need to fight for a society where opportunities, roles, and contributions are equal or mutually agreed upon regardless of gender.
On the other hand, dowry is a systematic practice that affects the lower class (puts the burden on them) and the middle class (women are written off their right in inheritance this way) the most. It commercializes relationships and commodifies human beings.
We need to unite against this societal evil, which is claiming deaths of thousands of women yearly and is the cause of domestic abuse likewise. Our continuous denial has shown that we are still afraid to see our dirty face in the mirror. And without seeing ourselves in the mirror, how will we wipe the dirt off?
What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments bar below.