02 April 2006

Indian women, Zambian men

Both receiving and giving dowry in India is illegal. However, many families practice it, a higher proportion in the rural areas. For those who don't know, dowry is wealth that a woman's family pays to her husband's family before or during the wedding. To get around the law, the dowry is paid as houses, vehicles, things for the house etc. This is done to ensure the woman is treated with respect in her new house, as far as I can tell. This system has caused more problems than anything else in society. If the dowry was not enough, the bride is either returned to her house, undergoes severe psychological stress, and in some cases is murdered by her new family. The perpetrators are usually released due to a lack of evidence and they continue the cycle.

In Zambia, the dowry is paid by the men to the family of the women that they marry. Called bride price, or lobola, this is to compensate the family for the loss of the woman. That seems like a great system, but when you look deeper the man's side of the family now believes that they have bought the wife and can basically do whatever they want with her. In this case the woman is again put down. Now, I'm not saying that every family does this. I'm just saying that it happens way more often than it should, especially in the villages.

So what is the answer if people still want to pay lobola or dowry? Why, pay them to each other. So if Indian parents would arrange their daughter's weddings to Zambian men, they could then demand lobola while the men could demand dowry. If both sides are not satisfied then they can forget about it and let the couple elope. Now this would put a strain on men of marriageable age in India as they would not find brides and they would definitely have to look outside, perhaps in Zambia. Of course these guys would demand dowry, the girl's parents would demand lobola, and as long as both are the same then we've again solved our problems as well as the world's with some added diversity.

Or, these parents could just stop bribing their in-laws to treat their children well and only let their kids go to families that love them and not the material wealth that they bring. Perhaps an easier option, considering the price of aviation fuel these days.

Another question that comes up is that did we start doing business deals during marriage or did that just come into the institution of marriage from the outside world?

5 comments:

Mayuri said...

Question is...is the part Zambian man posting these interesting possibilities, looking for an Indian woman,??? If this is a hint Ranjit, we take it, and all of us will keep our eyes open for an Indian girl whose family does not believe in getting lobola or giving dowry!! :)

Mosilager said...

it's all in the good cause of international relations and peace in the world... general good of mankind, I have no ulterior motives.

lova said...

is it a coincidence that lobola is exactly half-love, half-ebola ? Is there a subliminal message to be decoded here ?

Mosilager said...

love = ebola you mean? maybe... depends on if it is one-way or two-way traffic.

lova said...

more like lobola is an "infected" gift :): just kidding, funny you bring up the status of women back home: in a related note to the aids discussion,women are apparently relegated at the end of the queue in East africa when it comes to retroviral therapy.
WRT to mayuri's post: No ulterior motives ? huuum, you could be the new PR for the white house :)