Bride Price (dowry)

Studies highlight that bride price plays a significant role in perpetuating violence against adolescent girls. The violence and harassment usually originates from the girl’s husband and his family. Having received a price for her, the girl’s parents may put her under pressure to stay with or return to her violent husband, so that they do not have to return the bride price. In Tanzania, for example some parents perceive bride price as a way to relieve poverty, but in reality it rarely seems to achieve this – hence parents’ fears of having to return a bride price to a daughter’s husband if the marriage fails.114

In a qualitative study on the perceptions of GBV in Uganda, payment of bride price was seen as one of the key factors associated with domestic violence. The study explored experiences, motivations, meanings, consequences and reproductive health implications of bride price payment in the Wakiso district.115

Impact of bride price on adolescent girls
Research suggests116 that the impact of bride price can be particularly severe for adolescent girls, especially where parents have an urgent financial need. This includes:

  • Early or forced marriage.
  • Being forced to leave school because fees could not be paid and bride price was needed for brothers.
  • Exposure to HIV by older dominant men and having no way to escape, due to their age, inexperience and lack of power in the situation.
  • Getting pregnant too young due to early marriage, and sometimes developing severe medical problems, followed by subsequent rejection by the family, and social exclusion.

Follow MIFUMI, the Uganda development agency, which currently has a case before the constitutional court seeking to declare bride price unconstitutional.