A Zimbabwean lawyer wants the age-long African tradition of paying bride price – a sum of money or its equivalence in goods given to a bride’s family by the groom or his family before marriage – to be abolished.
Priccilar Vengesai has filed an application before the country’s Constitution Court arguing that the practice was ancient, unconstitutional and reduced marriageable women to mere assets.
Vengesai, a former civil servant said she wants the payment of bride price (or lobola as it is called in Zimbabwe) abolished or for both parties, in the alternative, to partake in the payment in other to give women some dignity.
“The society for which lobola was envisaged no longer exists and the continued use of the practice in modern industrialized societies exacerbates gender inequities without providing the social benefits traditionally associated with lobola,” Vengesai argued.
“In a nutshell, a woman is paid for simply because she is a woman and a husband pays for a wife because he is man. This amounts to discrimination based on gender and sex,” she added.
Vengesai, who belongs to the Shona ethnic group says she intends to go into marriage as soon as the Chief Judge gives the nod for the case to be concluded, hopefully in her favour as according to her, the payment of bride price in most cases has been consumed by greed and enrichment on the part of the bride’s family.
Bride price, which is often negotiable is mandatory in most African societies as without it, the marital union is incomplete and the bride is considered ‘stolen’ by the groom and his family.