K-P bans dowry and other extravagant wedding practices
Marriage functions bill aims to curb wastages
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly passed the marriage functions bill on Wednesday, 21st February. The bill has several different clauses that place limitations on extravagant wedding celebrations, the most prominent being the ban on dowry, the ban on decorations, and the ban on fireworks and firecrackers.
Flamboyant weddings are, quite sadly, a status symbol of wealth and power in Pakistan. People go to extreme lengths in an attempt to one-up their families and friends and to garner a good reputation in their social circles. Often the groom’s family demands large amounts of dowry from the bride’s family in the form of cars or gold, non-payment of this sum can lead to the attachment of social stigmas, and can ruin the reputation of the bride’s family forever. Lavish menus can lead to a ridiculous amount of food wastage, and celebrations involving explosives can be downright dangerous for the onlookers.
The KP assembly, in an attempt to curb the wastage, recently passed a comprehensive bill that places limitations on these outrageous wedding celebrations, and makes demanding dowry from the bride’s family a punishable offence. According to the bill demanding dowry is punishable with up to two months in jail and a fine of Rs. 300, 000. Other clauses of the bill include the banning of all explosive devices in celebrations, the banning of decorations on houses and streets, limiting the wedding menu to one dish only, and banning the use of a loudspeaker. Wedding ceremonies must also end by 11pm and the maximum expenditure on baraats or valimas must not be greater than Rs75, 000.
This bill is a significant breakthrough and can be called extraordinary. However, as with any law, implementation is the most important factor. Implementation of this law requires a strong and vigilant police force, powerful lower courts, and honest judges. If any of these factors are missing the implementation of punishments will be almost impossible and the bill will remain nothing more than words on a piece of paper; a mere formality.