May 23, 2013 | 02:22 AM (BD Time)
23 May, 2013 Thursday
Den Mohor: A good economic security for women
Zannatul Ferdous :
Although it is a legal right, few married Muslim women can enjoy the benefit of Den Mohor, a provision every bride groom has to abide by. When it comes to payment of Den Mohor, husbands in Bangladesh resort to various tactics to deprive their wives of their due rights. Women hardly can fight with their husbands over the issue due to various social barriers and obstructions, including the fear of humiliation.
Den Mohor, a practice in Muslim marriages intended to provide the wife with economic security and to limit the husband's arbitrary use of unilateral divorce. The amount is customarily recorded in the marriage contract and can be claimed in the event of divorce or death of the husband.
Theoretically, wives may claim this payment at any time, but in practice, they rarely do so. Thus, in theory, legal registration of a marriage provides the wife with a basis for filing suit to collect the dower if her husband deserts her or divorces her, or if he gives her grounds for divorce by habitually assaulting her.
According to women rights activists, lack of legal support and non-enforcement of relevant laws are among the reasons why women cannot claim their rightful dues. This not only deprives them of their rights but also hampers their empowerment.
They say Den Mohor is still a clumsy issue among both men and women in Bangladesh. Usually, Den Mohor is fixed on the basis of the familial and economic status of both the bridegroom and the bride.
The financial status of the bridegroom and the records of Den Mohor of the other family members are also taken into consideration while fixing the Den Mohor. Once fixed, the amount of Den Mohor cannot be reduced but the husband can raise it on his own. If the amount of Den Mohor is not fixed during the wedding, one can go to the court to have it fixed when the question of termination of marriage comes up.
There are two parts in payment of Den Mohor - one is immediate and another delayed one. The immediate amount of Den Mohor is to be paid once the bride asks for it. The delayed amount could be paid at anytime of the conjugal life. But it must be paid after the termination of the marriage or the husband's death. If the husband dies without paying the delayed amount of Den Mohor, the wife can take over the possession of any particular property of her husband and she can hold it in her possession until the Den Mohor is paid.
According to law, the wife can file a case with the family court against her husband if he does not want to pay the Den Mohor and the court is supposed to help the woman in having the Den Mohor realized. Before going to the court, the wife can also lodge a complaint with the local Union Parishad seeking help in this regard.
If a widow is deprived of Den Mohor, she can file a case against her husband's inheritors of property to realize the Den Mohor. If the wife dies before her husband, her inheritors of property can claim the Den Mohor money from her husband as Den Mohor is not waived even after one's death. They can even file a case against the husband if they want to do so.
A popular notion is there in our country that one does not have to pay Den Mohor when he divorces his wife. This is completely a wrong idea. Den Mhor is part of marriage and it has no relation with the marriage termination.
If Den Mohor is not paid during the marriage, the demand for its payment arises when the marriage is terminated. The total amount of Den Mohor, including the immediate and delayed ones, is mentioned in the marriage registration. A particular amount of Den Mohor is shown collected immediately which is mentioned in the marriage registration while the rest of the amount is considered the delayed one.
Den Mohor is the legal right of the wife. The husband has to pay it. It is also true there is no specific amount of Den Mohor-any amount can be fixed as Den Mohor-but it has to be within the financial capacity of the husband. Therefore, the amount of Den Mohor should be fixed keeping in mind both the financial capacity of the husband and the rights of the wife.
In Bangladesh, the family of the husband is usually seen to negotiate with the bride's family to keep the amount of Den Mohor as low as possible. Sometimes, the bride's family also mounts pressure on their counterpart to fix it at a much higher level which ultimately turns out to be difficult for the bridegroom to pay it. So, the amount of Den Mohor should be fixed keeping the reality in mind.
If the husband gives any gift to his wife after the marriage, that cannot be considered as part of Den Mohor. It could be considered as part of Den Mohor if it is mentioned during the marriage these or that items would be considered as Den Mohor. Den Mohor is not a gift, it is a legal right. Therefore, documents should be maintained while paying Den Mohor. It is the duty of the person who is paying it to maintain the document. Den Mohor has no relation with the daily maintenance cost of the wife. The husband cannot escape his responsibility of providing of his wife's maintenance on any pretext.
Asked about the payment of Den Mohor, advocate Elina Khan of Manobadhikar Bastabayan Sangstha said there could be immediate or delayed payment of Den Mohor-both are allowed. If one wants to make immediate payment, he can do that at the wedding function. She said Den Mohor could be paid through transferring ornaments, property, cash or any other valuable assets.
Sought comments whether Den Mohor is forgivable, Elina Khan said, "No, it's not. The wife can claim it anytime even if she forgives it verbally or in written. There is a practice in our society that the husband requests her wife to forgive her dues as Den Mohor and the newlywed forgives it out of shyness. But the fact is that Den Mohor is not forgivable, not even after the death of the husband."
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