Speak Out on Violence: DORIS KASOTE
THE ill-treatment of women by some husbands has sometimes been blamed on the outrageous amount of bride price that was paid to the woman’s family.
It has been argued that this has contributed to some women being treated like a piece of property by their husbands instead of an equal partner in marriage.
I agree that some families have taken advantage of bride price by demanding shocking amounts for their daughters to be given away. Besides the unrealistic demand that some families make, a man is also expected to meet the cost of a wedding.
Some parents have argued that their unrealistic demands stem from their effort to make up for the resources and time that were spent on bringing up their daughters. But my question is, Can a parent sincerely attach a price to what was spent on their daughter? And who says parents do not spend resources on their sons?
What is bride price? It is simply the money or goods given to the bride’s family by the bridegroom or his family. It is also called bride wealth.
Now, imagine those who argue that they need to be paid back what they spent on their daughters, from birth until she is old enough to get married; it is not possible.
Parents are obligated to look after their children and they should not in any way feel they are doing their daughters a favour, such that when time comes for their daughters to be married off, the amount of bride price is commercialised. In some situations, the groom’s family likens the whole process to purchasing a good or a service at the market.
Some sections of society feel this has also contributed to gender-based violence (GBV), where women end up being treated like items bought from the stores and the ‘purchaser’ can do whatsoever they wish.
And why do some families feel they are losing out when marrying off their daughters when marriage in a family is supposed to be a joyous moment that brings two families together?
Realistically speaking, families that are usually free in a couple’s home are those from the woman as compared to the man.
A traditionalist said bride price is a token of appreciation and needs not to be commercialised. He said families need to realise that the young couple has to start a new life together after the wedding and families should be there to help them and not milk the groom out of every penny.
Whether being extreme in demands for bride price has contributed to cases of GBV is food for thought. Let’s not commercialise this traditional process.
Until next week, let’s keep in touch.