In this scene, asking and agreeing to give dowry is normalized. The scene shows the plight of the bride’s family when asked for dowry. However, not once does anyone object to it and mention that asking for dowry is wrong. The groom’s family keeps asking for more and the brother of the bride is forced to agree to get his sister married. The bride sits silently while everyone in the room decides her future and fate. Dowry is a serious problem in India not just because it signals women as property but also because it leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional and physical abuse to injury and even death. The scene glorifies dowry as a tradition that cannot be forfeited. It also perpetuates the stereotype that women and girls are a burden on the family.
If the bridegroom and his family were brought before a court under Indian law, they could be punished under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 which prohibits the giving or taking of dowry.
Dowry is any marriage-related property or valuable legal document given by one party in a marriage to another. A person can give dowry before, during or after the marriage. However, dowry does not include marriage presents that people voluntarily give to the bride or bridegroom.
Anyone who gives or takes dowry is punishable with jail time for at least five years. However, the court can punish the person with less than five years of jail time after giving appropriate and special reasons in the judgement. The person also needs to pay a fine of at least Rupees fifteen thousand or the dowry value, whichever is more.
The punishment for demanding dowry from the parents or other relatives of a bride is jail time for six months to two years, and a fine of up to Rupees ten thousand. However, the court can punish the person with less than six months of jail time after giving appropriate and special reasons in the judgement.
‘Judwaa 2’ and its blatant disregard for consent
In ‘Judwaa 2’, we see the main character or the ‘hero’ slapping a girl’s behind and then forcibly kissing her without her consent. While the scene in the movie tries to portray it as comedy, it is anything but.
Consent means voluntary, clear and unmistakable agreement expressed by a person to take part in a specific act. If the main character was brought before a court under Indian law, his actions could be considered as sexual harassment.
According to Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, sexual harassment occurs when a man commits any of the following acts, without a woman’s consent:
- physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and direct sexual overtures;
- a demand or request for sexual favours;
- showing pornography.
The punishment for these acts is jail time for up to three years and/or a fine.