Our society has always been annoyingly male-dominant. With this dominance comes the patrilocality. It is indeed obvious that women by nature are physically not as strong as men. Sadly, this very difference gave the birth of male chauvinism. This mentality crept into every department of family and society. It has existed since then in one form or another which has victimized the women as inferior to men. They are not allowed to exercise as much privileges as men do. There are boundless restrictions imposed upon them. Their wills and desires are controlled by men. They are poor and pathetic due to this. What to wear, who to speak to, where to go and how much, how often are all dictated by the male-dominant social pattern.
The very fact that the women are not on the same level with the men is the root cause for the way the dowry prevails in our society. Women are supposed only to do household works, bear children and take care of them. This pattern has created all the differences. Due to this, they are deprived of education. When no education, nothing beautiful follows. No job, no money, no freedom, no awareness and what not! They are utterly dependent.
It has existed for hundreds of years and thus seems very natural; as long as clueless about the outside world, the very social pattern seems universal. It is the case for the most of the women in our society. It is the reason they are treated as means, not ends. The dowry is the result of the same thought pattern that every educated and uneducated hold.
From this, follows the conviction that a girl is ultimately going to be dependent on her husband. The same think the boys, educated or uneducated. As a result, they demand money. Even my own friends are proponents of the dowry who are actually pursuing engineering and science. According to them, they are going to take care of her for the whole lifetime; then why not demand a whooping amount of money! If we listen for the first time, it strikes true to us. But wait, ponder over it for some time and you will see there is something amiss with this idea. Do they spend all the money on her? Don't the wives take equal participation in the household works? Don't they look after all the family members?
We ask for the dowry openly because we don't value the work the women do in the house and the farm. We don't give sensitive importance for what they do in the family. We don't look into the sacrificial psyche that women have to endure leaving their own parental home. All we have is ugly shallow idea that with a marriage, an outsider is coming to our house forever and so she must bring enough wealth with her.
Of course, one major cause is patrilocality. Practically speaking, relationship is always conditional. From each we are related to, we expect something sooner or later, be it daughter or son. With a daughter, we are always prejudiced that she is ultimately going to be part of someone else's family member forever and only occasional with us. As a result, we don't expect anything much from her. We don't expect that she will earn for us. We don't expect that she will take care of us when we become old. In fact, since the day of birth, we have a different psyche for her. Due to all this, we don't want to spend on her much as we spend on our son. It is kind of logical, but again it is shallow. At most, most of us happen to think just for our own quite a balanced family. We don't think of the society. We don't think that with an educated daughter, someone else's family will become better. We don't expect an educated daughter-in-law. It has become a phenomenon, a world in itself. In a sense, we can say that our brain is hard wired to follow such patter in the society and not willing to break it.
Due to this patrilocality, a father too boils down to the conviction of dowry and gives her. So our system is also responsible for the dowry. We give our daughter to someone and follow a very orthodox and strict equation with her family afterwards. We kind of breakaway from her to a great length which gives the groom liberty to demand for the dowry.
Conclusively, the cause for the dowry is a sheer discrimination between a son and a daughter. The very institution of marriage is also faulty to a great degree. The mindset and attitude towards women that they are very inferior to men immensely induce the dowry. Not the least, by birth, a son becomes an heir to parental property and a daughter has no right over it gives the males a good deal to feel more powerful over the females. This gives a very natural feeling of achievement which makes them think that the brides must bring a good amount from her parental home to be properly accepted as family members.