What is the Relevance of Bride Price Today?
One of the consequences of the current astronomical rise of feminism is challenging of hitherto settled social and cultural practices that are perceived to promote women subjugation or male dominance. One of such practices that has come under attack is payment of bride prices. In fact, a very popular Nigerian author once declared that she finds bride price disgusting. According to her, the concept of bride price and what it stands for has been adulterated and commercialized. There have also been stories of ladies from a particular tribe in Nigeria holding annual protest against exorbitant bride price that they allege frighten away potential suitors thereby rendering them perpetual spinsters. Thus the relevance of bride price has become a controversial issue in recent times. There are different schools of thought with diverse opinions on this issue.
Some Of Such Opinions On The Relevance Of Bride Price Are:
- Bride price is paid for virgins only: Some believe that bride price is an age-long tradition that was paid for marrying ladies that are still virgins.
- Bride price is for all ladies: Others are of the opinion that bride price is also an age-long tradition paid for marrying a lady, whether virgin or not.
- Bride price is no longer relevant in today’s society and therefore should be abolished.
- The relevance of bride price in today’s society is still obvious.
Generally, bride price (or bride-wealth/bride token) is property, money, or other form of wealth paid by a groom or his family to the family of the woman he will be married or is just about to marry.
Dowry, on the other hand, is an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage. It is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter.
A dowry is paid by the bride’s father to the prospective groom. Bride price is paid by the prospective groom to the bride’s father. The payment of pride price and dowry are ancient traditions and dates back to our great grand fathers.
History has it that both bride price and dowry are symbolic acts of the transfer of responsibility from one family to the other. Also, both systems originated in a time when women were mostly engaged in family labour that did not generate money and therefore had no economic and financial independence.
The Relevance Of Bride Price And Its Abuse:
- Selfish interest of the brides family: Bride price has generated lots of controversies in this modern society. For instance, in Africa, and Nigeria in particular, some tribes and families see the girl-child as a wealth or cash cow waiting to mature. They look forward to the day of her marriage with so much enthusiasm. Not because of her welfare but because of the money and wealth they would generate from the groom-to-be in the form of bride price. That is what the author referred above finds disgusting- and I do too.
- Greed and outrageous bride price demands: Greed makes some families to throw caution to the wind in making outrageous demands in the name of bride price.
- The highest bidder gets the girl: Some families do not consider the happiness of the girl. Rather, they kind of “sell” her off to the highest bidder
- Undue pressure on the groom-to-be: Demand for outrageous bride price can put undue pressure on the groom and the young marriage.
- Resentment: Feeling of resentment by the groom towards the bride’s family as a result of bride price issues
- Increased number of single mature ladies: Bride price issue has made some men to withdraw from intended marriage to some ladies. Also, some mature single ladies are not yet married because of some outrageous bride price demands by their families.
- Late marriage: For the men, they delay marriage until they have made enough money to meet the high bride price demands. This in-turn leads to late marriage in women.
How Relevant Is Bride Price In The Modern Society? Is Bride Price Still Relevant Today?
Bride Price And Gender Equality:
- Does demand for bride price mean selling the woman? Some are of the opinion that if you demand for money before giving out your daughter in marriage, then you are selling her off. Is that it?
- Does paying a woman’s bride price mean buying her? After paying so much money for a woman’s bride price, some men believe that they have bought the lady.
- Is a woman part of a man’s property? Some men after paying bride price for their wives, then regard and treat the lady as one of their properties worthy to be treated anyhow by the man. Such men make comments like:”I married you with my money! I paid your bride price! Therefore, you belong to me! You are my property!”. This contributes to the issue of domestic violence. Is she his property?
- Should dowry be made as relevant and “compulsory” as bride price? Another school of thought, mostly the “feminists” are of the opinion that since the two parties involved in marriage are partners, then if anything should be paid or demanded at all, it should be from both parties and not just from one of them. Therefore, dowry should be made as relevant and “compulsory” as bride price so that no party lays ownership of the other. Rather, they should see themselves as partners in the marriage. Should it?
My Opinion On Relevance Of Bride Price In Today’s Society:
Can anyone really quantify or monetize the girl-child? Can someone really pay the worth of the girl-child?
I have two daughters, who I expect to grow up, and get married some day. I don’t expect them to just go and start cohabiting with whoever wants to marry them without the man coming to meet our family and doing the needful.
The question is: What is the needful?
I support bride price, which I see as a way the groom-to-be shows responsibility and value towards his bride-to-be. However, bride price should be reasonable and solely based on the man’s ability and willingness.
Bride price should have a minimum requirement, not necessarily money and it should be so basic and not tasking that any man who is ready to marry could comfortably afford it.
It should be devoid of deception. For instance, there are tribes and families that would tell you that their bride price is so small. Yet, when you initiate marriage, the “list of things” they will tell you to bring is enough to make an upcoming young man forget about marriage for the rest of his life. So, who is fooling who?