Aim: To assess the
pattern, demand and opinion of dowry among women in urban Karachi, Pakistan
and their perceived negative consequences of
dowry. Setting: Pakistan is a low income country, predominantly Muslim,
with around 190 million inhabitants. Karachi is the biggest city with roughly
13 million inhabitants. Method: Qualitative study, using content analysis of
five focus group discussions with women. Results: The theme “Dowry practices
and their consequences” emerged, along with five categories and 14 subcategories, describing the “burden of dowry”, “dowry
in society”, “dowry problems created by parents-in-law”,
“negative consequences of dowry
practice” and “good intentions”. Conclusion: Problems due to dowry practices are something which women of all socioeconomic classes in
Karachi are aware of. A number of negative consequences of these practices
create a current, pressing problem in Karachi society. These consequences
affect women’s status and their possibilities to grow and educate themselves.
It seems that change is being brought on
slowly, following the country’s development and increasing educational level
of the younger generation. Awareness of dowry issues needs to be raised and
steps need to be taken to speed up this process of change by empowering women
and ensuring equality in Pakistan.
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