This Monday 11th October 2010, the Supreme Court hearing will present a fresh ray of hope to the many women who had despaired when the constitutional court failed the petition.
On Tuesday 8th September 2009, MIFUMI’s petition on bride price was brought before a panel of 5 judges for hearing. The petition called for a reform in the bride price institution so Bride Price becomes a gift that is freely given and received.
However, four out of a panel of five judges wanted more evidence from MIFUMI connecting bride price and domestic violence.
Some of the judges did maintain that, though the constitution does not prohibit a voluntary, mutual agreement between a bride and a groom to enter into the bride price agreement, demanding a refund in the event of dissolution of the marriage demeans and undermines the dignity of a woman and violates the Constitution. One judge stood by MIFUMI’s position that bride price subjects a woman to slave like treatment.
MIFUMI has long argued one of the problems with Bride Price is that it forces women to continue to live in violent relationships as their parents cannot take them back without the refund.
Research by MIFUMI and two internationally acclaimed researchers revealed that bride price had mainly negative effects judging from the 61% of those interviewed.
Some of the negative effects highlighted included:
• Men having to borrow widely and thus causing debt and impoverishment
• Women becoming articles of property in their own homes
• Bride Price makes it very hard for women to leave or return home on mistreatment, as bride price may not be able to be paid back
• Early girl child marriage
• Deprivation of education for girls who are seen as a source of wealth
• Exposure of young women and children to HIV.
Atuki Turner, Executive Director of MIFUMI said,
‘The payment of bride price is a cherished practice that has been abused. We have had a lot of support from women who continue to suffer due to the refund of bride price. This appeal will have significant impact on the lives of our most vulnerable women in Uganda.’