An important consideration in the mate selection process is the giving of the dowry by the girl's parents to the boy's family. According to Leela Mullatti (1992), "the custom of dowry has taken the form of a market transition in all classes and castes irrespective of the level of education" (p. 99). The dowry system was initiated with the intention of providing security for a girl in case of adversity and unexpected circumstances after marriage. The parents gave whatever they could to their daughter (consequently to the groom's family) for this purpose. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, the custom had deteriorated to a point whereby the prospective groom and his family had become very greedy. They made tremendous demands, which if not met after marriage result in dowry deaths—burning girls alive if the dowry is insufficient, so that the boy can remarry another girl for a higher or better dowry (Mullatti 1995). The more educated a man is, the higher the family is in the caste and social hierarchy, the better his employment prospects, the higher is the expectation for dowry at the time of marriage. This makes it difficult for families with daughters who are highly educated to arrange marriages because the girls are required to have even more educated husbands (Seymour 1999).
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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsIndia - Caste System, Family Life And Family Values, Mate Selection And Marriage, Dowry System, Status Of Single And Divorced Persons In India