Letter to the editor, Guardian Newspapers UKIn the UK this week (16 August) the Guardian Newspaper reported on a ‘Landmark UK court ruling due in “bride price” dispute’. It involves the case where by a woman has taken her ex-husband and his parents to court seeking full payment of her mahr.
The two terms ‘bride price’ and ‘Mahr’ should not be used interchangeably as they are of significant cultural difference. In Africa Bride price is the payment of cows or cash to the parents of the bride in order to secure marriage. It is typically paid at or before marriage and the husband typically demands its refund upon the dissolution of marriage, however many years the marriage has last, that is until recently (Aug 2015) when in a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court of Uganda outlawed bride price refund, thanks to MIFUMI, a UK based charity and Women’s Rights agency, that campaigned against the practice because of its oppressive nature to women. Mahr on the other hand, is a direct commitment to the wife by the husband, and the payment is usually invoked by the bride upon dissolution of marriage. It acts as a form of security for women during marriage – in which case, it is a good thing for women. Dr Atuki TurnerExecutive DirectorMIFUMI@byameliahill
MIFUMI is an international non-government women’s rights organisation based in Uganda. MIFUMI’s work revolves around protection of women and children experiencing violence and other forms of abuse.