4 February 2013

Uganda: Ban Term 'Bride Price' - Activists

Mifumi, a Tororo-based Non-Governmental Organisation, fighting for women and children's rights, has proposed that the term 'bride price' be changed to 'bride gift'.

Atuki Turner, the Mifumi executive director, said changing the name would make the bride gift optional and not commercial as it is today. "This will help reduce domestic violence by men who think they bought their wives."

Turner made the remarks during the launch of a 45-minute documentary in which women shared their heart-rending stories on domestic violence resulting from bride price at Kololo in Kampala.

The film also included men who went back to the women's parents' asking for a refund of bride price for wives who had ran away.

"In 1999, we carried out a study in different parts of the country and found that 60% of married women believed bride price had contributed to domestic violence. They all agreed that it should be reformed. That is why as Mifumi, we are strongly saying it should be called bride gift," observed Turner.

After viewing the documentary, speaker after speaker lambasted bride price.

"If we want to get rid of problems in marriage, we should do away with bride price because it is the primary cause of violence against women. The payment of bride price makes men treat their women as possessions, which creates conditions of inequality. But since some people want it to stay, we should call it bride gift. A girl child needs to be respected and valued, not sold," said Naava Nabagesera, a presidential advisor.

Former ethics and integrity minister Miria Matembe said bride price portrays women as commodities, fuelling their degradation.

Tororo district LC5 chairperson Emmanuel Osuna said bride price subjected women to slavery and servitude.

"It makes it impossible for a woman to move out of an abusive marriage, long after it has irretrievably broken down. Bride price no longer serves any useful purpose in society," he stated.

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