By Sandra Birungi
In a bid to see women’s and children’s rights observed and respected, an NGO based in Tororo district has put forward a proposal that the word ‘bride price’ be changed to ‘bride gift’.
The NGO, Mifumi, throught is executive director, Atuki Turner said that if changed, the ‘gift’ will become optional, not commercial as it is today. “This will help reduce domestic violence by men who think they bought their wives.” Turner made the comments 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 had men who go back to the woman’s home asking for the bride price refund in case the wives 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.
“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 adviser.
Former ethics and integrity minister Miria Matembe said bride price portrays women as commodities, fueling their degradation while Tororo district LC5 chairperson Emmanuel Osuna said, “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.
The ‘bride price’ is intended as a gift from the future husband of the woman to her parents for taking care of the girl into adulthood. Parents also use this time to ask for what they want in exchange of ‘giving’; up their daughter to the ‘ownership’ of their daughter. It is always given during introduction ceremonies or the traditional wedding ceremonies.