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Friday, August 7, 2015

Bride Price | How Much Are You Worth?

Across Africa, some believe a bride price instills a sense of accountability into a marriage while others feel bride price encourages domestic violence.


What is bride price? 

The tradition of bride price is strongly entrenched in cultures across sub-Saharan Africa.
The tradition of bride price is strongly entrenched in cultures
across sub-Saharan Africa.
Traditionally, bride price is when the prospective husband is expected to give a certain amount of money and goods, including cattle, goats, blankets or cowrie shells before a marriage is agreed. The practice is similar to buying an engagement ring except that the bride price usually went to the bride's parents in exchange for marriage. Sometimes the bride price is just a token gift in order to satisfy tradition.

Uganda's Supreme Court ruled that bride price, when a man pays his future in-laws for his fiancĂ©e’s hand in marriage, is legal. However, the judges in a 6 -1 decision banned the practice of refunding the bride price on the dissolution of a marriage.

The tradition of bride price is strongly entrenched in cultures across sub-Saharan Africa. In the northern part of Malawi, the bride price known as malobolo or chuma is said to legitimize a marriage and as the wedding ring symbolizes unity between two people, the bride price is a symbol of unity between two families. Bride price instills a sense of accountability into a marriage.

MIFUMI, women’s rights organization based in Uganda states, “bride price subjects women to violence and abuse as they are equated to property that has been purchased. Furthermore, women cannot leave an abusive marriage unless they refund the bride price paid for them which most cannot afford to.”
Wedding rings symbol of unity
Wedding rings symbol of unity

Ugandan women no longer have to refund their bride price after a divorce, according to a new ruling from the country’s Supreme Court. Under the original custom, women were ordered to pay a refund if the marriage ended. The Kenyan constitution outlaws the obligation to pay a bride price but it is widely understood that it will be paid.


Bride price should not be confused with dowry. A is dowry money or property that a wife or wife's family gives to her husband when the wife and husband marry in Northern Africa and many other parts of the world. 

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