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Groom-Price or Bride-Price: Violation of Moral Values

There will not be anyone especially female in our society who is unaware of the term dowry as it is one of the most important “social obligations” of a wedding. It will not be wrong to say that if there is no dowry, no marriage can be expected especially in middle, lower middle and poor classes of the society. In the process of marriage, it is already pre-assumed by everyone that the parents of brides will give dowry to the groom and his parents in addition to their daughter for marriage.

Although, the dowry-beneficiaries, i.e., groom and his family members, justify it arguing that dowry is comprised of the gifts that bride`s parents themselves give to their daughter, however they fail to answer what if the bride refuses to take these “gifts” from her parents. In fact, marriage is a religious obligation to form one of the strongest relationships between two persons that eventually bring two different families close to each other. Logically, these are the respect, care and love between the newly-wed couples which determine how well and how long they will get along successfully.

But, frankly speaking, it is, in most of the cases, the value and quantum of the dowry that determines the type of relationship between the bride and her in-laws. It also indicates how she would be treated by the in-laws. Taking into account the prevailing ground reality, parents try to leave no stone unturned to give so much dowry to the groom that their daughter cannot face any sort of disrespect because of the same. Unfortunately, future of married girls come only after they get married, and one of the most important reasons of why thousands of matured females remain unmarried is that their parents financially fail to give dowry  as pr the demands. Practically, dowry has become the price of the groom that girl`s parents have to pay for marrying their daughter. It is also one of the reasons of why our society is termed as a male dominated society.

Like the societies of Pakistan and India, in African societies as well, there are different customs and doings in the functions of wedding done by the families of bride and groom. One of the important cultural traditions that is criticized most is the Bride-Price. Bride-price is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of the bride upon the marriage of their daughter. In other words, like the sub-continent, in Africa, the groom and his family become the victim of the “Dowry” that they have to give to the bride. Interestingly, it is customary for the family of the bride and groom in some parts of Africa to employ even the middlemen who negotiate and bargain on the bride-price to be paid by the groom. As a consequence, the groom has to arrange money in order to pay the bride price to the girl`s family. He feels compelled to exceed his limits by accepting loans, borrowing and even disposing-off his valuable possessions just to meet up with marriage demands commonly termed as Bride-Price.

Further, bride-price is demanded and received not only by the bride`s poor family, but also from the families who are financially strong. The intellectuals of the African societies accept that their people have become materialistic only wondering how much money they (the brides and their families) could make by way of marrying-off their daughters to supposedly wealthy individuals. The aftermaths of extravagance, unnecessary grand and colorful activities that are tied to marriages often leave couples in chains, abandonment and in sorrow. Apparently, in case of the bride-price, bride and her family become the beneficiaries, but the same benefit turns into a big problem for the bride when the groom starts treating her as his purchased property after marriage.

After comparing the dowry in the sub-continent with the bride-price in Africa, what looks common is the monetary benefit which is demanded and received in return of rendering his or her services for marriage. In case of dowry, the groom (man) directly or indirectly demands his price for marrying a girl. While in case of bride price, a bride (woman) gets her own price for accepting the marriage proposal from the groom. In this way, either of them (male and female) becomes selfish by using his/her social or traditional prominence over the other.

Taking into account the ground reality, what emerges is that it is not the matter of being a man or woman, but the prevailing customs and the negative mentality of the persons (both men and women). In fact, these two are the real causes of the negative consequences that we are facing in our society. Truly speaking, if we collectively make serious efforts to resist against them, we can be able to eradicate them. Otherwise, no matter we call it male dominance, selfishness, unequal distribution of wealth or deterioration of moral values, people will keep becoming the victims of the same.

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