Documentary evidence suggests that at the beginning of 20th century bride price, rather than dowry was the common custom, which often resulted in poor boys remaining unmarried.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry_system_in_India

Origin:

It is believed to be started from Brahmin families in South Indian region in early 1960s. Soon they were followed by lower castes population. And withing few decades it is happening all over the country.

Current Practices:

Its even more saddening that the educated and intellectual classes are more involved than the lower class. There still isn’t any dowry in lower castes and financial weaker sections.

Effects of Dowry practice:

  • Female foeticide (because parents don’t want to pay huge amount as dowry)
  • Loans: parents often take loans to pay dowry
  • Domestic Violence: have been reported from groom’s side demanding dowry
  • Suicide: of girls because of torture and taunts
  • Girls education: parents often decide to keep money for their daughter’s marriage rather than educating her
  • Poor girls remain unmarried, even if they are educated and could be much better partners
  • In some cases false cases are logged on groom side and laws are misused

Constitutional Laws:

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961: 

  • a penalty in section 3 if any person gives, takes or abets giving or receiving of dowry.
  • The punishment could be imprisonment for a term not less than 5 years and a fine not less than ₹15,000 or the value of the dowry received, whichever is higher.
  • Dowry in the Act is defined as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given in connection with the marriage. The penalty for giving or taking dowry is not applicable in case of presents which are given at the time of marriage without any demand having been made.
  • http://wcd.nic.in/act/dowry-prohibition-act-1961
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