Ways and Means out of the Octopus of Dowries

Ahmed Ibrahim

The issue of dowry has become the talk of all worldwide. In this sphere, Sudan is not the exception. It has been proven as a subject of paramount significance, especially when it comes to the youth, boys and girls altogether who desire to marry. Due to the strangling economic conditions that the country has been passing through presently, they just abstain from getting involved in the matter and rather, they just prefer to live the life of singles.
Needless to say, the Sudanese government has played a vital role to resolve the issue, through an initiative that is called ‘mass wedding’ in which it pledges to shoulder all the expenses and costs, dowry and none, that relate to the wedding.
In the eyes of many, ‘the mass wedding’ is a very illuminating experiment, that worth to be generalized nationwide if for the predicament will be resolved finally.
Of relevance here, is what Terry and Anna Philips say concerning the topic of dowry in the United Arab Emirates. They argue that the wedding there is so expensive to the extent that some youth have postponed marriages, going further to provide figures to show how expensive it is. ‘It ranges between 70000 and 300000 dirham’, adding that something as such is equivalent to a one or even two years’ salary’.
They state that and because of this stumbling block, the government there has introduced a marriage fund for this purpose, based on that the Emirati men are eligible to have accessibility to 70000 dirham.
Regarding the combat of the rise of dowries, Terry and Anna Philips reveal that there is a draft law which says that the dowry should not be more than 20000 dirham, pointing out that and for further reduction of the costs of wedding, the duration of parties should not to exceed one day.
As mentioned below, the matter of dowry is not only to be paid by the groom, as in Sudan and some other countries. On the contrary, in other nations it is only the bride and her family are to shoulder the whole burden. Some talk about the issue elaborately. For instance, there is Stephen David who argues that dowry  is a kind of gift given by the bride’s family to that of the bridegroom, adding that the terms and conditions of dowry often match those of a regular business or a financial agreement which is an essential prerequisite to marital bond.
He goes on to talk about dowry in some societies like this; ‘to have a daughter means to lose money and material goods, but to have a son translates to gaining more. Since the world weighs everything materially, women have come to be considered less valuable to the parents than sons. The joy of the birth of a girl child is lost by the immediate realization of added responsibility of the father to start storing up wealth for her dowry’.
Amatullah Abdullah, a freelance writer, speaks up about dowry, especially from a purely Islamic point of view, explaining that
a woman

is honored and respected at all times, but many startling transgressions have crept into the Islamic practice to negatively influence it like this; ‘costs of the groom’s education and liability are the responsibility of the girl-but when it comes to her, she is totally ignored. And girls are left with little or no choices but to meet the demands of the groom’s family; otherwise she is going face all the gloomy scenarios’.
She goes on to say that and due to the ignorance of anti-dowry laws, the bride’s family will continue suffering at the hands of the groom and his family, pointing out when they speak of gender inequality in some nations, ignorance is the master of the situation, indicating that when a girl is born for a particular family, she is not considered as the factor of happiness and that her birth is no more an occasion for celebration. ‘Owing to this, her ordeal doesn’t end with marriage, but rather continues to lead to domestic violence and to pose serious threats to the family future’.
She is of the opinion that women are active participants in the development of nations, affirming that if their rights are hampered at the domestic level, the economy will be adversely affected-a situation that is to build-up significantly.
However, and according to Amatullah the ordeal of the bride doesn’t to get restricted to the bride alone, but rather extends to her parents who are to bear the the financial demands to ensure her, calling for the necessity to eradicate this social evil very quickly.
She stress the ills of dowry, especially psychologically, indicating that it leads to loss of the girls’ self-esteem by believing that, ‘ they are burdens on families and that their rights to a better life are badly affected’.
In the estimation of Amatullah such an ordeal is not without a solution, seeing that education is not the only primary catalyst to any girl, but also nations as well, attributing the existence of the dowry system wholly to ignorance and illiteracy, suggesting that eradication of such a phenomenon is not possible without educating the society. ‘The legislations aren’t enough to bring in a revolution. Rather, the masses are the ones who are competent enough to eliminate radically the phenomenon’.
Siwan Anderson is of the conviction that as the dowry system has disadvantages, it is also associated with advantages, explaining that the dowry helps newly married couple to establish their family, ‘the dowry, utensils and other household articles that a bride brings with here at marriage time, are of much benefit to the newly married couple to establish their new home and to also furnish it with necessary accessories’, noticing that payment of the dowry makes the marriage of an ugly uneducated and aged girl easy, as huge amount of money acts as effective and useful method for luring a suitable bridegroom to the bride.
In conclusion we can say this; the way out from octopus of dowries, and as indicated by the prophet of Islam, Mohamed bin Abdullah, peace be upon him, is to firmly sticking to what he has said; ‘lesser dowries are associated with much blessings’.

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