Moves to abolish ‘bride price’ in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court is set to determine the constitutionality of paying bride price to a woman’s family by her husband before marriage.

The practice known as ‘lobola’ in Zimbabwe according to the petitioner in the case reduces women to mere “assets” and triggers instances of abuse in the hands of their husbands.

The case was filed by a legal practitioner and former civil service official Priccilar Vengesai, who now wants the practice to be abolished, according to the Herald newspaper.

Vengesai is reported by the Herald as saying that should the payment of the ‘lobola’ remain, then families of both the groom and bride should benefit and be thanked for raising their children to ensure there is equality in that gesture.

Vengesai argued in her court papers that she belongs “to the Shona tribe and I intend to enter into marriage as soon as this matter is concluded. Under the Shona culture, lobola must be paid for a woman before the marriage is acceptable in the family and the society. In scenarios where lobola is not paid, parents and relatives of the bride would not allow the parties to legalise their marriage under the Marriage Act,”

“I did not participate in the pegging of the lobola price. I was never given a chance to ask for the justification of the amounts which were paid. This whole scenario reduced me to a property whereby a price tag was put on me by my uncles and my husband paid. This demoralised me and automatically subjected me to my husband’s control since I would always feel that I was purchased,” Vengesai added.

Ms Vengesai, argues that women’s rights to dignity, equality and non-discrimination are at stake in her legal challenge and hoped that the court is quick to declare the customary practice unconstitutional.

Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice would now rule on whether or not the challenge should be heard by the constitutional court made up of a nine-member team



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