Women + dowry prices = not an equation that adds up to marriage
What’s strange is Yemen isn’t getting richer, but when some fathers hear there is a man coming to ask for their daughter’s hand, you can see the dollar signs in their eyes. Before the man officially comes to ask for the daughter, the father starts writing a list of all the things the family needs. The entire family: uncles, aunts and grandparents come to add to that list.
As soon as the groom reaches the bride’s house, they say, you have to pay the mom and dad because they are the reason for the bride’s existence. You have to pay the aunt because she raised the girl when she was young. The uncle deserves to be in on this because the girl stayed at his home when she was studying. This logic continues until the groom ends up paying not only for the bride but for the entire family. The dowry is a present for the bride, not a will to be distributed between family members.
This is enough for a man to call a wedding off. If we were living in Monaco where a greater percentage of the population is wealthy, we might think these dowries are reasonable, but when you ask for millions, I want to know what’s so special about your daughter, is she an ocean-view room, on the 60th floor of Burj Khalifa.
Marriage is not a business deal. Your daughter is not a product, and the groom is not a source for money. If the groom has to take out loans from family and friends in order to pay for the dowry, your daughter the one to suffer-she is going to have to live in debt as well.
Due to these financials, men are becoming more and more accustomed to living as bachelors. They do not have the financial means to get married, so they stay single for longer. While it’s much easier for a men to carry the weight of being single, when these men cannot marry that means there are girls left without marriage offers. For them society can be less forgiving for not entering into nuptials. If a girl remains single, she is “unwanted.”
How long is a girl going to wait for here Prince Charming with an unlimited bank account. Sometimes such a man exists. He comes along and fulfills all the family’s demands . Although it’s a happy day for the family, this creates a problem for others. Now the rest of the family and the entire neighborhood, want the same thing for their daughters.
It’s important for families to ensure their daughters are offered security when their hands are asked in marriage, but they should also think of reasonable dowry prices. What’s more important though is to find someone that will treat their spouse well. It’s more important to be a good man rather than a rich man.
Men are saving right now to get married, but the more they save, the more expensive the dowries get. They chase this dream, until before you know it, they are 40.
This pressure put on men can have very ugly consequences. There have been cases where men have thrown acid in women’s faces as a way to lower the dowry price for the women. Their justification is that if a woman has some sort of deformity, her dowry price will be lower.
The solution is in society’s hands. I hope fathers start to think about their daughters’ future in the long run, instead of thinking of marriage as a business deal.
Hear more of Shahi Haleeb weekdays on Radio Yemen Times, aired 2:00—3:00 p.m. and 10:00—11:00 p.m., Saturday through Thursday. Tune your dial to 88.8 and thanks for listening!