A dowry is a payment, such as property or money, paid by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom, or his family, to the bride, or her family, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride, or her family, to the groom, or his family. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the time of marriage, and which remains under her ownership and control.
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Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it. Dowries continue to be expected and demanded as a condition to accept a marriage proposal in some parts of the world, mainly in parts of Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. In certain Asian countries, disputes related to dowry sometimes result in acts of violence against women, including killings and acid attacks. The custom of dowry is most common in cultures that are strongly patrilineal and that expect women to reside with or near their husband's family (patrilocality). Dowries have long histories in Europe, South Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.