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MPs in Rwandan Parliament want ‘bride price’ scrapped

A wedding ceremony in Kigali . A legislator has proposed that Bride price as a requirement for marriage, should be scrapped in order to prevent problems facing Rwandan families. (Sam Ngendahimana)

A wedding ceremony in Kigali . A legislator has proposed that Bride price as a requirement for marriage, should be scrapped in order to prevent problems facing Rwandan families. (PHOTO/Sam Ngendahimana)

Bride price as a requirement for marriage, should be scrapped in order to prevent problems facing Rwandan families, according to Leonard Ndagijimana, a member of parliament.

In the Rwandan culture, the groom pays bride price before seeking a woman’s hand in marriage.

However, some believe the centuries-old tradition has evolved into a price tag on the bride.

Ndagijimana made the observation on Tuesday, November 15 when Jeannette Bayisenge, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, appeared before parliament to answer questions about problems facing the family.

Ndagijimana said the trend of family conflicts and violence was a result of the fact that some couples are already burdened even before they tie the knot.

“We know very well that bride price is a burden to men who want to marry. The price has reached upwards of Rwf1 million,” he said.

There are issues of rising number of divorce, family conflicts and gender-based violence, among many others.

For example, the number of divorce cases has risen from about 1,300 in 2018 to about 9,000 in 2019, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

Some 46% of ever-married women aged 15-49 have experienced spousal violence, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, compared to 18% of men age 15-49.

The lawmaker added that other issues pressing newly married couples included the need to own a home, lack of funds for wedding ceremonies, which has forced some of the men to ask for bank loans.

“You find that a newly married couple is already in debt. Imagine a family starting from such a scenario. Most of them have bank loans or are indebted to their friends,” he said.

“Some couples spend Rwf6 million on the wedding ceremony, and they don’t have what to eat after the festivities. How would they not get involved in conflicts? Instead of looking at each other in the lenses of the honeymoon, they see each other as problems.”

The solution in my opinion is that: Let’s see how we can remove the burden of the bride price.”

Minister Bayisenge however said that bride price is not necessarily the problem.

“Our laws do not determine bride price as a requirement for marriage. Bride price has a meaning in our culture, it’s a sign of appreciation,” she said.

“Some parents today perceive it as the price tag for the girl. And that is where our efforts should be targeted in order to change the perception. Otherwise the tradition itself is not the problem.”

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