A kind initiative by Qavi Khan Welfare Society, a non-governmental organisation, provided dowry items to 20 girls who got married during a mass wedding at Multan Arts Council the other night. Every bride was given basic household items worth Rs 60,000.

Though a noble gesture in spirit, as Pakistanis are still stuck in the vicious system of judging a girl’s worth in the amount of dowry given, we need to question ourselves till when will we support this deplorable practice? By contributing to purchasing dowry, we are not only encouraging this practice but also endorsing it. As long as people will continue to donate for this cause, the poor man will continue to feel pressured to take the charity or a loan to fulfill the inexplicable demands of the groom’s family.

India has taken strict action against this custom by prohibiting the giving and receiving of dowry and the offenders be charged a penalty according to the situation that the gifts are exchanged.

The custom of giving dowry is deep rooted in the subcontinent culture and has no basis in Islam. We, the champions of Islamic values, ignore the essential rights of women and the right of dowry which they are supposed to receive rather than give. The dowry price paid at the time of marriage may be significant, but the greed of husbands and in-laws can grow to dangerous proportions after marriage. This frequently translates into physical, mental or sexual violence against the bride.

One would assume that such horrific incidents only afflict the lower income strata but greed knows no bounds. Violence in the name of dowry is all too common in Pakistani marriages be it within the rich or poor. It is an evil that needs to be rooted out from the fabrications of our society. To hope from this society is a far fetched dream, the law needs to take matters in its own hands and prevent the manipulation of young women’s lives who deserve so much better than to have dowry as a condition for marriage.