ASIA/PAKISTAN - Dowry prohibition: a burden has been removed from the shoulders of the poor

Monday, 30 November 2020 marriage   human rights   women   human dignity   poverty  

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "We appreciate the federal government of Pakistan for taking the historic decision to ban the tradition of dowry in Pakistan. This provision will facilitate marriages, and goes in the direction of not encouraging materialism. This decision is extremely valid for the poorest in the nation". This is what Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM, of the diocese of Hyderabad says in a message sent to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the recent measure adopted by the government.
The Federal Minister for Religious Affairs of Pakistan in recent weeks banned the dowry tradition in Pakistan, ruling that it is illegal for the man or his family to ask the bride's family for a dowry. Pakistan becomes the first Islamic country in the world to ban the tradition of dowry which, according to the culture of the Indian subcontinent, affects citizens of every religious community in a transversal way.
Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM explains: "It is always sad for me when I learn that a marriage is postponed or canceled due to lack of dowry money. We always encourage families to abandon these old traditions: in our time life has become very expensive and one has to think about daily needs. Furthermore, material wealth is certainly not the central aspect of marriage, which is the sacred union of a man and a woman".
The Bishop notes that the recent measure "will favor people living below the poverty line, middle-class families and those who are forced to delay their daughter's marriage because of the dowry". Mgr. Shukardin recommends the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs "to legislate properly and apply the law whereby no woman is subjected to violence for not having brought a sufficient dowry".
Fr Mario Rodrigues, parish priest of St. Judah parish in Karachi, speaking to Fides, observes: "A weight is removed from the shoulders of the poor. I have always thought that the practice of dowry was a curse for our modern society because families, in order to reach the necessary amount, face debts and remain strangled by these debts for life". Fr Rodrigues notes: "Another problem related to the dowry was that of ostentation and materialism. Now we will think of the essential aspects of marriage, namely the Sacrament, the union spouses, the relationship with God, the desire to form a holy family". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/11/2020)