“Bride Price” should be made unconstitutional. That is what Ugandan Deobrah Awori is requesting in a Ugandan court this month. Awori told the court that she tried in vain to stop her husband from forcefully marrying off their daughter, Evelyn, so that he could benefit from the “bride price” she received. The petitioners argued that demand for payment of a “bride price” by the parents of the bride from the groom – a tradition practiced by many communities in Uganda – gives rise to conditions of inequality during marriage. These, the petitioners argued, were contrary to the provisions of the constitution. The full report can be found at this link.
This is a debate that has been ongoing on different fronts. The Sunday Monitor recently did a study on the pros and cons of “Bride Price”. Below is an excerpt from the article done on the subject this week.
Examples of the negative aspects were varied and ranged from the denial of education to the girl by the parents in a bid to extract wealth from her, promoting early marriages and young men borrowing money to finance the bride price hence starting the new family in debts.
It was also noted that a man who fails to pay bride price is often looked at as inferior and in case of tragedy, to such a man in the form of death of his wife, he would be required to first pay bride price before being allowed to bury his wife. The same report noted that bride price has left many men unmarried because they can’t afford it which makes the having of children impossible for them.
Many women may also fail to return to their homes even under improper treatment from the husband because bride price was paid while others fear that their parents may not be able to refund the bride price they were given thus occurrence and continuation of domestic violence.
In the same report, interviewees shared real life experiences of bride price. Some couples revealed that they have been pursued by the bride’s family for failure to pay bride price while many women have been inherited after their husband’s death and some brides families requested for the return bride price after the death of the wife. Widow inheritance and victimisation of infertile women were among the many experiences shared.
On the positive side, it was noted that bride price has stabilised and resulted into loving relationships between the two families. The report also looked at the connection between bride price and HIV. It found out that women or young girls who are forced to get married for wealth accumulation by their parents maybe presented to men who are already infected since their goal(parents) is just to get wealth. It also noted that wife inheritance as well has accelerated the spread of the disease especially where bride price was paid.
Also looked at was the connection between bride price and domestic violence. The result revealed that 99 per cent of the interviewees had experienced domestic violence, mostly the widowed women.