Mass wedding in Pakistan protests dowry tradition

Women’s Enews has an interesting article about a mass wedding in Pakistan in which 201 couples got married without dowries (presents traditionally given from the bride’s family to the groom’s family).

More than 4,000 people gathered this past Saturday to witness the marriages of 201 couples from Pakistan’s impoverished Northwest Frontier Province where those unable to afford the socially dictated costs of marriage often remain single for life.

The article also has some interesting information about the history and impact of dowry payments.

Bride wealth, known as kaikuli, has sanction under Islamic law and was often viewed as a pre-mortem inheritance from a father to his daughter. In Pakistan, a woman is entitled to one-eighth her parental property as dowry, with the woman retaining rights over her possessions. Grooms were encouraged under Islamic law to give wives generous mehr, a cash gift at the time of marriage meant to secure the bride’s future. Since the end of the 1970s, the amount of mehr has decreased while the modern version of dowry–over which the bride rarely retains any control–has gained ground on kaikuli.

“It has largely degenerated into a loathsome practice,” Nauzat Amir, an Islamabad-based political activist of the Pakistan Muslim League party said. “Now poor families work very hard to gain from marrying off their sons, while the rich compete with each other to outdo the lavishness of other’s dowries.” [...]

Activist Raise Issue of Dowry Violence

As in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, the issue of dowry in Pakistan and the violence that often accompanies it has become one of major concern to women’s rights activists.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the issue of dowries in neighbouring India, where observers recorded 23,000 dowry-related deaths between 1994 and 1998. There are no such studies about the impact of dowry violence in Pakistan.

Read the whole thing.

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6 Responses to Mass wedding in Pakistan protests dowry tradition

  1. 1
    Amanda says:

    It’s a real shame that weddings have turned into a form of racketeering in Pakistan. Of course, we don’t have dowries in America but we do have a similiar, if much milder, situation involving the escalating costs of getting married and having a wedding.

  2. 2
    Anna in Cairo says:

    The dowry practice in Islam, as the article sort of correctly states, is for the man to give a financial or in-kind gift to the woman which becomes her property. The marriage contract often stipulates that half is given at marriage and half would be given on the event of a divorce, the rationale being that in Islamic law men have such freedom to divorce whenever they want for whatever reason it was thought that women should have some sort of financial guarantees. Of course like all traditions that originally had some sort of understandable (in context) rationale it has become a harmful practice in many ways, but I would still argue that as a practice it is less harmful to women specifically than the opposite practice in most other traditions of the dowry being paid from the bride’s family to the groom’s family. For those interested in the traditional views of marriage by medieval Islamic jurists (whose writings are the basis for modern Islamic law and theory) I urge them to read Kecia Ali’s article on marriage in the book “Progressive Muslims” edited by Omid Safi. There is also a really interesting article on homosexuality and Islamic law by Scott Kugle in the same book.

  3. 3
    zamzam says:

    masha allah sister i agree with you. we all need to anderstan muslim traditiona.jazaka laahu khayr sister.

    thank u. salamu Alaykum

  4. 4
    Rakhshinda says:

    In Pakistan I noticed that dowry has yet to be recognized as a gender issue. Activists have almost forgotten it.
    I initiated an advocacy project Fight Against Dowry with volunteers. Regretfully International Donor Agencies ( i won`t name them) declined to fund.However, I am keeping the project alive with the help of some volunteers.

  5. 5
    sumaira says:

    dowry is a curse.i simply hate families who ask for dowry.

  6. 6
    zareen says:

    dowry death are form of domestic violence which caused by only greed. this practic perceived girl to be burden on their family and boy to be blessing. it cause endless poverty to that family who have more then 2 girls in their family. almost this horrific custom should be abolished.