Feminist Vengesai Wants Bride Price Outlawed
Priccilar Vengesai, a gender equality lawyer from Harare has filed papers in Zimbabwe’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, asking it to abolish lobola, or the bride price practice.
Vengesai’s contention is that the lobola practice is outdated and that it reduces women to mere “properties”, says a local reporter.
Priccilar Vengesai believes that if the custom is maintained, the families of both the bride and groom should pay lobola in the interest of gender equality, the Herald newspaper adds.
The feminist lawyer is mounting challenge of the court to hear her case on the grounds that the practice violates her rights as a citizen.
The newspaper quotes Ms Vengesai as saying that she wants to re-marry, and does not want her experience in a previous marriage to be repeated:
“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.
“I belong 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”, she pleaded.
The custom of paying bride prices is widely practiced in Africa, but traditions vary. Without payment of the token, African traditions believe that the marriage has not been endorsed by forefathers and its future uncertain.