Dowry

A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts, or money at the marriage of a daughter.[1] Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom or his family to the bride's parents, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride's family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the time of marriage, and which remains under her ownership and control.[2]Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it. Dowries continue to be expected and demanded as a condition to accept a marriage proposal in some parts of the world, mainly in parts of Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. In some parts of the world, disputes related to dowry sometimes result in acts of violence against women, including killings and acid attacks.[3][4][5] The custom of dowry is most common in cultures that are strongly patrilineal and that expect women to reside with or near their husband's family (patrilocality).[6]

Definition

A dowry is the transfer of parental property to a daughter at her marriage (i.e. 'inter vivos') rather than at the owner's death (mortis causa).[1] A dowry establishes a type of conjugal fund, the nature of which may vary widely. This fund may provide an element of financial security in widowhood or against a negligent husband, and may eventually go to provide for her children.[1] Dowries may also go toward establishing a marital household, and therefore might include furnishings such as linens and furniture.

Locally, dowry is called dahej in Hindi, varadhachanai in Tamil, jehaz in Urdu and Arabic, joutuk in Bengali, jiazhuang in Mandarin, çeyiz in Turkish, dot in French, daijo in Nepali,[7] and in various parts of Africa as serotwana,[8] idana, saduquat, or mugtaf.[9][10][11]