Angry Brides – a virtual attack on the Indian practice of dowry

By Hans Olav Arnesen

A new Facebook-application has seen the light. Some might be familiar with the game «Angry Birds». The Indian match-making company Shaadi.com have made their own version: «Angry Brides«. The game is meant as an attack on the still widespread practice of dowry in India. Dowry has been illegal in India since 1961, but according to Sriram Vadlamani in Tech Wire Asia:

«It’s not a matter of whether a groom would ask or attract any dowry or not, but a matter of how much. Dowry depends on the profession the groom is in. The greater the salary, the higher the dowry. Engineers and doctors are the most sought after. Software engineers and IT professionals used to command a premium, and were the cynosure of all eyes. That changed with the 2008 recession.»

In the game you are supposed to hit three potential grooms with various «weapons». At level one you can choose between different types of shoes, but later one you get other missiles to choose from. The three future husbonds are an engineer, a doctor or a pilot. For every hit you score the dowry decreases. Ufortunately the men are quite good at dodging the shoes so I haven´t quite made it to level two yet. And quite honestly I doubt I ever will as the game in itself is fairly boring.

It might seem odd that a match-making site, the worlds largest matrimonial site according to themselves, would risk alienating their clients and damaging their own market position by launching such a game.  But the problem they´re  adressing is quite real and also quite deadly. The practice of dowry, where the family of the bride is expected to pay a handsome sum of money, or sometimes cars or other commodities to the groom, is the main reason why so many female Indian fetuses are aborted. This practice has followed Indians in diaspora as well. A recent report from Norways leading hospital, Rikshospitalet, stated that the number of boys born compared to girls was statistically unlikely.  According to the Canadian National Post a leading medical journal proposed to keep the sex of Asian children a secret until it was too late to take an abortion in order to safeguard against sex-selective abortions.

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