Bride Price: Modern Day Female Enslavement?

Powerful Essays
In the western world, it is common for a little girl to imagine herself walking down the aisle in a beautiful white gown and her father at her side ready to hand her over into the hands of the man of her dreams. However, in Sub-Saharan African societies like Ghana and Uganda, girls dream of the day when a man, along with his family, will come to her father’s house and propose a bride price to perform the traditional marriage rights. Bride price according to Gita Sen is problematic in that it is defined as a payment made by a prospective husband to the family of a woman he wishes to marry (Sen). From Sen’s definition, it is evident that bride price not only highlights the dominance of patriarchy in African societies but emphasizes the objectification of women as payments are made in exchange of a bride/woman.

In Diane Johnson’s article, “Traditional Marriage in Africa: The Dowry”, Johnson explains that the concept of bride price in Sub-Saharan African societies is purposely for the control and objectification of women by men (Johnson). Johnson in her article informs us that before a bride price is set, there is a complex process of negotiations between the two families. These are headed by the uncles and sometimes the aunties of both families until there is a mutual agreement on the price the groom has to pay in order to marry the bride (Johnson). Johnson continues to argue that this process of negotiation and price setting can easily be seen as an act of selling and buying. In my opinion, this process of negotiation and price setting is a form of objectifying a woman as it clearly equates a bride/woman to a commodity or good found in a shop. Even though this act of offering a bride price to the family of one’s bride is embedded i...

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Matembe, Hon Miria R. K. "The Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Bride Price." International Conference on Bride Price. Kampala, Uganda, 2004. 18-.

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Orhin, Isabella Gyau. "High Bride Price Aiding Marital Violence." 14 December 2002. Ghana Web. 12 May 2011 .

Sen, Gita. "Subordination and Sexual Control: A Comparative View of The Contorl of Women- A View Across Cultures." Nalini Visvanthan, Lynn Duggan, Laurie Nisonoff, Nan Wiegersma. The Women, Gender and Development Reader. The University Press, 2005. 142-149.