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Should Bride Price be abolished?

“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.
If bride price cannot be done away with and is a cultural practice, what should be done about it then?
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.

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.

What do you think should be done about bride price?

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19 thoughts on “Should Bride Price be abolished?”

  1. Nico says:

    Whilst the reasons for abolishing this practice are very valid, I would like to point out that it unfortunately isn’t as easy as going to the courts to request that a tradition older than decades of generations be abolished. Tradition is Africa’s IDENTITY and part of our tradition of pride prices.

    Let’s also consider that before the white man came to Africa, the bride price was a way of asking your woman’s hand in marriage. But as respectful as African tradition is, you cannot go ask for a woman without bring her family gifts. This is what became a norm and now the bride price. White poeple buy their fiancees engagement rings. Africans didn’t have that bit in our culture. Instead, men befriended their fiancees family members and sought favor by somewhat “paying them off” to express interest in the girl.

    The practice unfortunately isn’t the same today as we have seen women sent off to marry men they barely know at tender ages as 11 years old. Instead of focusing on the bride price issue as a cause, I believe we need to for once accept the fact that we also have pedophiles in Africa and address this as a crime, NOT abolish the practice of bride prices. If done appropriately, I believe a woman who has ‘child bearing hips’ and has started ‘seeing her time’ is ready to be sent off to marry (according to African tradition) if she choses. I personally do not agree with Forced marriage and the premature indoctrination of the African female to believe that she has to marry. Telling the African girl that she need not be serious in school or not go at all, is also a facet of today’s twists to bride prices and traditional marriages that disgusts me wholly.

    But then, see what education has done to the Western woman? It is unfortunately a cycle that seems to never end.
    My 2 cents/.
    THank you !

  2. Numvi says:

    YES it should and be burried for what are men buying goats or vegetables in the market .If a man wants to marry your sister or daughter don’t you know he has helped you to reduce the burden that you were carrying?.Did Adam paid any bride price to eve’s family. why are we so greedy that we should pay a pricre before marrying a girl?what is marriage? Did angel gabriel paid the bride price of mary before giving her the son of God? what is the meaning of bride price and who pays for bridegroom price and if I can know the satan who brought fort this phenomenon of paying for brideprice I will personally eliminate his remaining generation .

  3. Foxy says:

    Hypothetically speaking, this should be reformed not abolished. How it can be done is the million dollar question. Bride price has created greedy monsters. One of my friends almost did not get married because of the impossible demands from the family and extended family of his bride. They thought him to be rich and wanted to milk him dry.

    Why does a man have to compensate a woman’s family for caring for her? Does that even make sense? It does make a woman a commodity almost. Here is how I think bride price should work:

    The woman’s family should give gifts to the man’s family to show their good will and the man’s family should do same. Marriage is two families coming together so the appreciation should be mutual especially these days where women are so much more independent and in certain cases, earn more than their husbands or fiance.

    I also know that the process in my culture as my parents explained to me, is really a courting of families. I am not married but I will raise hell on any family member of mine or distant relative who attempts to extort my husband-to-be because most likely any funds or contributions toward this tradition will affect both of us financially.

  4. Frank says:

    For those that advocate bride price or dowery as a Gift…why is it priced then? Gifts are suppose to be from the heart and not restricted to what or how much you can give. If African women truly want the emancipation of women to move forward they have to advocate against such practices.

    I am sure most African women will advocate for bride price after all they are not paying a dime towards getting married compared to most women in the USA whose parents are mostly responsible for the wedding. I say let us abolish bride price, and have all couples work and contribute financially towards their marriage/wedding/knock door/Bride price/home/food etc and it should never be a one sided thing…last time I checked women emancipation was on the move and so bride price and dowery only brings us back to the traditionally patriarchal societies that most of Africa is today.

  5. Frank says:

    Also let us not forget that because of bride price/dowery when a woman whose family has received such a price is physically or verbally abuse and runs away to her parents or family, she is brought back the very day or next to her husband by her family simply because their mouths have been oiled and most traditional law expects the father or family to return her ASAP without letting her spend a night outside her husbands home …..it is sad practice and has been abused over time to the detriment of African women….

  6. Kamaazengi Marenga says:

    It used to be a token of apreciation, it has been transformed into a BUSINESS! It gives most men the feeling that they own their women coz actually they bought them. If possible it should be abolished today b4 sundown!!!

  7. Sony Roll says:

    Perhaps we should be the ones to change, not the issue of bride price. Bride price is a token that is often demanded from African men to indicate their seriously and capability to marry and take care of a woman. It is part of what makes us Africans. That is how we are; that is how we should be.

    Bride price is nonrefundable in most or all African cultures. So lets not say abused women hesitate to return to their parents because their parents took huge bride price. Pride price is not paid back even in the event that a marriage is nullified. Perhaps that what we should make clear.

  8. Frank says:

    Sony Roll I am not sure which African country you are from, but in my culture, bride price/dowery especially the money demanded and not the cows, goats, drinks and other gifts used for the celebration is paid back not as a requirement but as a way to completely acknowledge a traditional divorce because no family wants to live with the fact that they spent money paid for their daughther who is no longer married to the Man who paid the bride price especially if they are going to collect from another man. It is not the law, but traditional ethics….

  9. Lora Fogam says:

    Life is a series of battles, you fight one to gain the skills set to fight another. One has to pick and choose which ones to dispense their energy upon .
    The “bride price” issue ,extremely miniscule compared to the road that lies ahead for the newly weds.
    Marriage is a union of two families. However, the only reason the two families unite is because their sons and daughters want to be together.In as much as we want to pay homage to our tradition, sometimes some families just go way over the board with the issue of bride price and may sometimes end up splitting the happy couple apart. I believe that time heals. So If the two lovebirds are happy together and want to be together then,they just should go for it , they can go ahead and have a court wedding/ ceremony and move on with their lives and be happy together. If say ten years later or twenty years later, theydecide to renew their vows then ,if the groom wants to at that point can still go ahead and give something to the wife’s family as a token of his appreciation for the love and support throughout the years and for many more to come.

  10. Lora Fogam says:

    So yes, I think the issue of bride price should not be abolished because it is part of our tardition as Africans but modified. We live in modern times and the concept of marriage sure could use a touch of the dawning of new times.

  11. Kuatji Katjarava says:

    i think the thought of this is sickening let alone derogatory Africa do you enjoy this sequncial abolishments of your traditions? Africa you should wake from this sleep i think you have slept long enuf.These thing are leading to your debasement.You should realise that you are unwittingly shifting to the left.
    Africa realise that you are nothing without your tradition.Don’t let your emotions do the thinking. I would love to believe that you know emotions are but Energy in Motion.Anyone who thinks of moving this boundary mark which our ancestors have established is simply envoking the wrong spirits.we should instead of sinking into that sin change the way we see things lets start seeing things through our own eyes.what i am saying is no to Abolishment of this lovely tradition.this is just a token of apreciation it’s not buying a woman.

    God bring back Kahimemua Nguvauva,bring back Kwame Nkurumah bring back our greats i’m sure you wouldnt love to see Africa vanish!

  12. Mali SE says:

    The Bride price should not be abolished but I recommend that it be reformed. It is part of Africa: our culture and identity and distinguishes us from the Western world, where marriage no longer has any credible value.
    Believe it or not, Bride price is a biblical concept. Of course Adam didn’t pay an actual bride price as Numvi suggested above, but throughout the Bible, there are illustrations of the bride price. Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel, and when he was tricked to marry Leah, he was willing to work a supplemental 7 years to get his bride. Jacob’s father, Isaac paid a bride price for Rebeccah; He didn’t do it personally, but his father Abraham’s servant presented Rebeccah’s family with gifts of gold, before taking her to her husband.
    For all of us who are believers, we call on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We know that Jesus came not to abolish our cultures, but to give us insight on how to not be bound by the legalism of said cultures but live an abundant life.

    I’m a woman, raised in America, and I believe in the bride price, because it’s part of who I am. I do think that some people take advantage of the situation and ask for astronomical figures, but it should just be a symbolic token and nothing more.

  13. limbepikin says:

    I don’t think bride’s price should be abolished, for reasons that I would explain on another time. But the most important reason why I don’t think it should be abolished is because it is our culture. Bride’s price, in it’s self, is more than about money. Please don’t let the western way of thinking take that away from us. Man, I wish you guys were around to see my co-workers’ reactions when I told them about the “knock door”/bride’s price process that was involved in my own traditional wedding; especially since I was not back home, and was represented by my cousin. We have so much that we have lost to the western mentality, please, let us keep the bride’s price. IT BELONGS TO US.

  14. msakereth says:

    No it should not be abolished. It’s a cultural practice.

    What should be abolished or edited is how it’s interpreted or what its meant to be.

    It’s should not be used as an outlet for the husband and his family to treat the bride as an “object”. I think that the problem is…..over time, people lost sight of the symbolism behind the event and began focusing more on the material gain of the act.

  15. Princess says:

    if bride price is abolished, Africa will no longer deserve its name and it will be the mockery of the world.

    there are a good number of examples in the Bible even of people who indirectly paid bride price and i think we should imitate them.

    If bride price is gone, our culture is gone and Africa will no longer own its famous name.

  16. Sandra says:

    Bride price should be gone and banished forever. it disturbs us and destroys the happiness and future of a woman.

    i think love comes from the heart and not from money and happiness is not a matter of money but the inner mind.

    if bride price exists no longer, the earth will be happy and our culture will no longer be disturbed.

    Thanks and i hope it will be gone.

  17. Rashid haverd says:

    It should not, we know now civilization and time of modernity as come.It’s way many youth are un able 2 marry bcz pride price they can’t afford and God in old testament commanded man to procreate , so we parents should give chances to their children so that they make ahappy family

  18. Melton Ipi says:

    I strongly oppose the idea of abolishing the payment of bride price. It is because; to uphold the tradition and cuture of one’s society and so it is worthy to pay becuse, especially up in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, women are paid bride price becuase they the bride leaves her family and will be part of the groom for the rest of her life…thanks.

  19. Mugisa Justin says:

    sincely speaking,l think bride price should be abolished because it has made many educated women to remain un married by men because men fear the amount of things charched onto them and secondly it has led to inceasing level of poverty because you find the groom taking almost all what he have to the bride’s family and yet remember he is the one look after that woman in all sorts of caring steal he would have also releaved the bride’s family the burden of looking after her.in the same way l will talk about the in equality which has become common in most families because by just mere paying of that dowery a man thinks he just may be bought that woman to do all sorts of domestic work while he is just seated.another issue is about disappointment by the woman you seem to have paid for and later may be even run away.so l strongly stand firm in saying that bride price should be abolished.

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