'Bride Price' Refund Banned In Uganda

In Depth

Ugandan women no longer have to refund their “bride price” after a failed marriage, according to a new ruling from the country’s Supreme Court.

Under the original custom, women were ordered to pay a refund—which most likely meant returning livestock gifts—if the marriage ended. The court officially banned this practice, stating that it treats women as a commodity and also makes it tougher for women seeking divorce. Moreover, women in Uganda generally earn less money than men and can’t afford to pay out these refunds.

While the judges didn’t rule the bride price practice as unconstitutional, the majority agreed that the process was demeaning to women. BBC notes that:

…traditionally the bride price is seen as an honour and a sign that the couple are entering into a respectful marriage.
Mifumi [the women’s rights organization that brought the case forward] said that bride price encouraged domestic violence and could lead a man to think that he had paid for his wife’s “sexual and reproductive capacity.”

Evelyn Schiller, a rep for Mifumi says, “This is a momentous occasion… and this ruling will aid the fight against women and girls’ rights abuses.”

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Image of a Ugandan wedding via Getty.

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