The developing world is full of poverty-stricken families who see their daughters as an economic predicament.
Originally intended to help with marriage expenses, dowry came to be seen as payment to the groom's family for taking on the burden of another woman.
In 1997, the World Health Organization declared, " more than 50 million women were estimated to be 'missing' in China because of the institutionalized killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing's population control program." The Chinese government says that sex-selective abortion is one major explanation for the staggering number of Chinese girls who have simply vanished from the population in the last 20 years.
Even after infancy, the threat of physical harm follows girls throughout their lives. But the threat is more severe for girls and women who live in societies where women's rights mean practically nothing.
It also puts young women in danger: A new bride is at the mercy of her in-laws should they decide her dowry is too small.
UNICEF estimates that around 5,000 Indian women are killed in dowry-related incidents each year.
These "servants of the household" come to accept that life will never be any different.