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Proposed Victorian anti dowry legislation questioned by SBS Punjabi listeners; safeguards sought!

Source: Saadakhtar, Flickr

As we discussed the recommendations made by Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence through this week, many SBS Punjabi listeners have openly shared their views via SMS, Facebook and live talkback.

If both "giving" and "taking" a dowry at the time of marriage is criminalised, then will both parties (the bride and the groom's families) be punished in case of a dowry case in Victoria? These and many other questions were answered by Dr Manjula O Connor of ACHRH, when the SBS Punjabi team ran a talkback session on Thursday April 7. Dr Manjula was the catalyst behind the anti dowry legislation proposal in Victoria. You can hear the entire talkback session by clicking the above audio link.

Also througout the week, many SBS Punjabi listeners have contacted us and raised concerns about the upcoming anti dowry legislation. Whilst we'll continue to provide a forum for discussion on SBS Punjabi program, we understand that members of the community can write directly to the Victorian government with their concerns. The legislation hasn't yet been drafted and your feedback may prove invaluable to the Department of Justice, which will decide the exact wording of the anti dowry legislation.

You can send your feedback via email to or call the Victorian Government Contact Centre on 1300 366 356.

And here we share some SMSes we've received from SBS Punjabi listeners, while discussing the proposed anti-dowry legislation.

Tue 5/04/2016 9:05 PM

I have question for Dr Manjula.  When bride’s family tells lies and blames husband for  dowry,  what will be the punishment ? This often happens with verbal abuse violence also.  Ravi, Lalor, Vic

 Tue 5/04/2016 9:40 PM

I fully agree that some girls misuse the law.  Yash , Springavale, Vic

 Tue 5/04/2016 9:43 PM

When some people have a well established family, a new bride can abuse him the husband or threaten him, saying, “Dad will lodge a dowry case against you if you don’t agree ”. Anonymous

 Tue 5/04/2016 9:51 PM

How can we place a total ban on dowry since giving and taking both are crimes. Manmohan S Saxena, Melbourne

 Tue 5/04/2016 9:52 PM

Hi I don't want to tell my name. I don’t agree with that lawyer doctor or whatever. I studied here in Australia. My parents spent lot of money on me, I got arranged married in Punjab and we did not ask for a single penny. But my wife was working and giving all her income to her parents before she got married and her parents expected same after marriage too. Straight after marriage we had a child and her parents were still pushing her to work which is not possible because of little baby. So we had some problems too in relationship, I just said she can work but family and child is first.  Anonymous

 Tue 5/04/2016 9:53 PM

 It is the responsibility of girl’s parents not to allow their daughter to marry boys who ask for dowry but in contrast, to come to Australia, they accept it at that time and then accuse boy’s party later on. Manjula is out of touch. Suresh.

I think it's just easy way to escape filing the case of dowry against some innocent people's too. And its the simplest n easy way to get PR by making a drama of family violence. Sorry for harsh words. I can be wrong too. Deepak, Via  SBSPunjabi FB

 Thu 7/04/2016 9:51 PM

People should be respected, not money. I think dowry is a big curse. This trend of taking dowry must finish.Sabir, Melbourne

 Thu 7/04/2016 9:49 PM

Why do girls’ family give dowry as well as gifts? What is regarded as gifts by one family and could be dowry for others . As Mrs. Manjula herself gave A$40000 gifts to her daughter at the time of marriage,  it could force other people to follow... Believe it or not...She herself did wrong and now trying to make a clean system.  Amandeep singh

 Thu 7/04/2016 9:41 PM

 If there will be a law against dowry, then what steps will Govt. take on fraud cases ?  Neeraj, Sydney

 Thu 7/04/2016 9:35 PM

I think there was no need  of this kind of law here . It will give very bad name to our community and country.Barjinder Singh

 Thu 7/04/2016 9:33 PM

I’m  a man belonging to Ludhiana in Punjab. My mother was really unwell in 2013 and wanted me to get married before anything happened to her.  I was married to a science professional in a very simple ceremony. I was happy with it, because even I belong to a simple lower income family. But the day after we got married, my wife locked the house, took away all the jewelry at home.  I reached a stage when I just wanted to commit suicide. The girls’ family used to blackmail us that we should give them at least $50,000 (Rs 50 lakh) for Australian citizenship. Anonymous

 15/04/16 via Facebook

With due respect, If Ms. O'connor is that desperate to create an image in the society or after getting any sort of Australian award then please don't do it at the cost of destroying reputation of Indians in Australia. These Indians have worked very hard to prove themselves and your interview, which was totally biased against men, gives me expression that you have no clue what so ever about Indian culture.
1. Do you have any experience of giving or taking dowry when you got married (of course no, so you don't know what does it mean)
2. You have formed your opinion based upon stories you heard from other poor women (may be the one who allegedly killed her daughter last week Sanaya Sahib).
3. India has a strong dowry act, where it is illegal to give or take dowry but is it effective.
4. Supreme Court of India has also expressed it's concerned over massive misuse of this act, where every single husband has been accused of demanding dowry.
5. Australia has a lot of domestic violence laws in place already and economic violence is one of them, then why you want to bring another one with a Hindi word Dowry in it. Don't you think Middle eastern, Pakistanies or some European don't share so called gifts, when they get married.
6. I wander how many girls or their parents will be facing court or jail for giving dowry as it is illegal to give dowry as well.
7. What about those men whose wives are having boyfriends and wives are threatening their husbands of police or court if they want to stop it. ( I m talking about Indians here).
8. You want to bring equality between Indian and Australian marriage arrangements, then go for it. Australian pick their boyfriends or girlfriends and stay together for a number of years (means they really try each other physically, emotionally or psychologically) and if they don't like each other they easily go apart on their own ways and try some body else.On the other side Indians still believe in arrange marriage and do you 2016's Indian youth is still living in 18'th century, where they are getting married only for Dowry.
At the end Ma'am it is Australia, we are living in, we came here by moving our selves away from Indian weakness e.g dowry, caste, class or race so please don't try to drag us back in the same system. Jatinder Kumar