The Dowry Distress


Bini Dahal

Marriage is considered an important turning point in human life, and this statement is taken very seriously in the Nepali society as well. Nepali parents hope their children get married within a particular age. At the same time, people have big expectations when finding a potential partner. The criteria can differ for different persons. However, loyalty, financial stability and good family background are some of the key standards. But how do we exactly know whether a person is a right one?

In a recent case, a young woman came forward to speak up about her abusive husband. These two had been in a relationship for three long years and had decided to get married. The girl and her family were more than happy and had strongly hoped that the girl would live a life of happiness, peace and abundance. But on the contrary, she was forced to go through a hellish marriage. The bride’s family spent lavishly on her wedding and gave a significant amount of money as a dowry. 

However, the girl’s happiness did not last long. No sooner had they entered their conjugal life than the husband began abusing her physically and mentally. She wanted to continue her studies and work in a bank. But neither did he respect her as a person, nor did he care about her aspirations and wishes for her future. The man wants to get divorced from her immediately, but she still is trying her best to mend her relationship with him. She still wants to stay in the marriage, despite facing abuses and violence for months. 

The girl and her husband, both of them come from the Terai region of Nepal. And it is a well-known fact that the Terai region is notorious for its rampant dowry practice. Even today, the groom’s family expects the girl’s family to bear everything as dowry. The amount differs based on the level of education and job position of the potential groom. It’s not like these families do not know about how heinous dowry practice is.  But dowry is so very wrong and illegal too, it is highly punishable.  

Yet, such incidents are still prevalent mostly in the Terai region - directly asking for dowry, based on the education, social status and job position of the man and the family.  So if a girl’s family fails to meet the demands, the groom and his family torture the girl until she either tries to meet the demand or suffers physically, mentally and emotionally. The necessity to make Nepali girls and women strong and independent has to be highlighted. When there is a higher level of dependency, there is a greater chance that these kinds of people will try to exploit their partners. 

Despite being educated or socially respected, many have failed to broaden their thinking on most matters. And it is especially evident in the cases associated with dowry. We tend to ignore individual happiness because we are very much conscious of what people around us will talk about. This way, people are found staying in abusive relationships for a long time. After a certain point, it becomes difficult to get out of it and by the time we do, we are hurt to the point that those wounds do not show signs of healing. Basically, it becomes a recurring wound. 

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