Daughters Aren’t A Burden, Dowry Is! This Fashion Campaign By A Pakistani Designer Paints The True Picture Of The Evil Social Practice
Daughters are considered a ‘burden’ for their families in the society, at least in the Indian subcontinent. There is a very simple explanation to this. While the son earns the bread and butter, the daughter is a liability who needs to be married off along with a huge amount of dowry that is to be paid to her in-laws. You know, the large amount that the bride’s family pays the groom in cash and kind? That’s the price you pay for birthing a daughter in our culture. It’s an oppressive matrimonial tradition which leaves families deep in debts and the brides vulnerable to abuse. More often than not, this social evil ends up in torture, harassment and even death of the bride. So if you think about it, daughters aren’t a burden, dowry is. And, it’s a burden on no one except the bride.
A Pakistani fashion designer partnered with UN Women Pakistan for a campaign that captures the true picture of the dowry system that still prevails and is quite common in several cultures. Ali Xeeshan came with a very interesting and thought-provoking campaign for his latest bridal couture collection that he named ‘Numaish’ which means exhibition. In the pictures, a young bride clad in red bridal outfit is seen pulling a cart which is loaded with commonly exchanged wedding gifts like home furnishing items, electrical appliances, furniture and there stands her husband too. This demonstrates how women are overburdened by this ugly and totally redundant social tradition.
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The designer also shared a fashion film for the collection on his Instagram account which documents how the parents start saving up for their daughter’s marriage, often putting themselves through unfathomable financial strain. But ultimately, it’s the bride who has to shoulder the burden of this custom all her life. He wrote, “Shedding light on the epochal and alarming issue of families fretting over saving money for their daughters’ dowry (jahez) instead of their education that is far more important. It’s time to put a stop to this overburdening tradition!”
The age-old practice of dowry prompts parents to save tons of money for their daughters’ marriage rather than investing in their education and making them financially independent. Not just in India or Pakistan, this tradition is prevalent in more than a dozen countries in the world and the root cause of domestic violence, child marriages and burning and death of women. Every year, thousands of dowry related deaths are reported. It is deeply disturbing that although illegal, the cases of dowry are rarely reported by the brides or their family. On the surface, every one is against dowry but the truth is still exists, and is often gift-wrapped as wedding presents to the groom’s family.
The amount of dowry also varies in different cultures, countries and castes and often also depends on the bride’s age and beauty (read: fairness), groom’s education and profession and both families’ negotiation. However, it ends all in the same way, which is constant harassment of the woman after marriage. The bridal collection entitled Numaish also highlights how the society casts women as an object put for ‘exhibition’. They are decked up and presented before the groom while the families negotiate the right deal.
Through this emotion-evoking campaign, the designer has sought to encourage people to say no to dowry and urge families to accept their daughter-in-law with nothing but love. Well, we can only hope.