In line with changing attitudes towards women in Uganda, the Tororo District Council has repealed the 1964 Bukeddi Bride Price by-law that legalized the payment of bride price by all intending grooms. In its place the council has approved the District Bridal Gift Ordinance 2008. Alex Okoth, chairperson of Gender and Community Based Services, the organization that presented the ordinance to the Tororo District Council, said repealing the bride price by-law will promote and protect the rights and dignity of women. He said the Bridal Gift Ordinance will give due consideration to cultural practices, but will outlaw mandatory payment of bride price, which has caused numerous financial problems for many families in Tororo. The 1964 Bukeddi Bride Price Law stipulated maximum bride price payments, penalizing anyone who exceeded them. Under this law, no one was allowed to pay or demand for more than five heads of cattle, five goats and twenty shillings. The law was largely ignored as the economic landscape in Uganda change. The Tororo District Bridal Gift Ordinance 2008 differs from the old law by stressing that dowry payments can only be given out of free will as a gift. It adds that the gift should never be refunded in case of dissolution of marriage. The draft ordinance was presented to the district council last week and councilors were sent to the field to seek views on it. Okong Okiror, the Mukkuju LC5 Councilor, said he hand his colleagues did not face any resistance fro the public. He however asked for more resources to be availed for further sensitization about the new law. The Tororo Chief Administrative Officer, Felix Esoku, said the ordinance will come into effect after approval by the Attorney General. Recently the Constitutional Court started hearing a petition seeking to abolish the payment of bride price as a condition for customary marriage. The case filed by the Mifumi Project is based on the argument that the bride price is an abuse of the dignity and welfare of women. It also challenges requirements that once a customary marriage is dissolved, the full bride price must be refunded.
Nyero Juma Seyyid
Updated: 06 Dec, 23:0323:03