exactly just How ‘bride price’ reinforces negative stereotypes: a Ghanaian research study

Lecturer in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Education

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Wedding can be an organization typical to all the countries. Extremely often it is associated with transfers – in many instances in the shape of payments – between the grouped groups of the groom as well as the bride.

These re re re payments may be categorised into two: dowry and bride price. The dowry, more widespread in parts of asia, involves re re payments produced by the bride into the groom along with his household. Bride-to-be price, having said that, means the re payments that a potential groom and his household make to a potential bride and her family members. It’s a tremendously typical practice that is cultural Africa.

Historically, bride cost payment served to validate customary marriages generally in most African communities. It strengthened family that is new produced by marriage and legitimised young ones created to marriages.

Ghanaian culture has withstood major changes to its social practices throughout the years that are past. One which’s modified significantly is bride cost. Within the past, re re payment was a household event. A woman’s bride cost ended up being compensated by her groom and their household. Bride cost had not been negotiated: the groom and their family often decided on which and exactly how much to cover. This might be voluntarily and willingly compensated to your grouped category of the bride.

Before Ghana had been colonised because of the British in 1867, bride price failed to include money as cash had not yet been introduced in to the Ghanaian economy. Rather, it included products such as for example containers of schnapps, ornaments, clothing and cowries for the bride’s mom, daddy and brothers.

But times have actually changed. Bride-to-be price re re payment is an even more practice that is individual. A groom primarily funds the costs of their wedding, although some grouped families still offer economic support for their sons during wedding.

A far more evolution that is drastic the participation of money and bargaining. The quantity to be compensated is rigorously negotiated by the categories of the groom therefore the bride. The present training is the fact that groom frequently wants an inventory through the bride’s family members. Although bride cost listings can vary greatly among families and cultural teams in Ghana, many listings consist of things such as for example containers of schnapps, ornaments, garments and money for the bride`s mother, daddy and brothers.

Those items in the demand list have actually additionally taken on a look that is modern. Some families need electronics such as for example cell phones, laptop computers and iPads as bride cost. A few facets, like the groom’s status and wealth, and also the bride’s level of education, decide how much a groom will pay as bride price.

Although bride price custom has significant social and functions that are social you will find latent, unrecognised and unintended consequences associated with the training.

Our research attempt to explore how bride cost re payment forms cultural and sex husband-to-wife and identity punishment in Ghana.

We discovered that there have been psychological and social implications of this training of bride cost. In Ghana having to pay the bride pricing is taken primarily as being a cultural constant that includes to be satisfied. But, as our studies have shown, this has both social and emotional implications for the males who pay and also for the females for who it’s compensated.

Despite our findings, the training of bride pricing is a painful and sensitive social problem, and also to recommend its proscription will probably be slow – or even to fail.

Sex identity

We conducted focus that is semi-structured conversations and in-depth specific interviews with 32 participants, consists of 16 perpetrators (guys) and 16 victims (ladies) from rural and metropolitan Ghana. The individuals’ ages ranged from 24 to 60.

Our classification ended up being in line with the individuals’ self-reported experiences. That is, we classified feminine participants with self-reported experiences of real or abuse that is sexual or both, from current or previous marital partner as victims, and guys who’d inflicted real or intimate punishment, or both, on a present or previous marital partner as perpetrators.

Our research found that both male and female individuals thought bride price practice had been required for attaining desired masculinity and femininity in Ghana. Feminine participants saw it as an essential part of womanhood, bestowing respect and dignity in wedding. Guys, in the other hand, viewed it as being a necessary condition for male identification in culture. Failure to fulfil it might significantly undermine their identification and dominance in wedding.

Individuals recommended that this is of women’s identities, and their sense of self-worth in marriage, ended up being based on guys through the re re re payment of bride cost. It had been evident within our research that bride cost could lead ladies to look worthless unless covered, and also to be addressed nevertheless a person desires.

As an example, in response to whether or perhaps not bride price practice should always be proscribed, one participant that is female a rural area stated:

No. How do we abolish our tradition? We shall maybe maybe perhaps not agree totally that a guy should head into the house and just just just take my child without having a bride cost.


Additionally, male participants into the study described bride-to-be price tradition being a product condition for keeping culturally thought masculine identification and authority in wedding. Having a bride-priced spouse ended up being viewed as an accomplishment that is masculine.

We additionally unearthed that having to pay the bride price meant there clearly was an implicit obligation that is moral a woman’s component to respect and obey her husband’s commands and desires. Psychologically, the training created an ownership mindset in males. This might cause them to see their wives as their ‘purchase’ over whom they work out unfettered authority, including real and emotional punishment.

For example, a male participant revealed that:

I really believe bride cost is component associated with the reason why husbands abuse their spouses since it demonstrates that i’ve obtained you against your mother and father or family so that they understand i must manage you. Then you must also obey what I say if i take care of you. Once the family members takes the bride cost, in addition they accept that the lady is with in my own care of course any such thing should occur to her they’re going to ask me personally.

Additionally, the trade of things and cash for the bride, especially a high bride cost, produced indebtedness into the minds of both the bride and her family members. This implied that after the spouse mistreated their spouse in wedding, the grouped family members felt they couldn’t intervene.

The payment of bride cost has also been from the perception of women as ‘acquired properties’ over whom men work out authority and control. In line with the participants’ reviews, we discovered that the character that is transactional of practice could ‘objectify’ and ‘commoditise’ ladies in wedding.

Feeling of ownership

Though our study revealed that bride cost tradition could reinforce negative stereotypes about male domination and feminine subordination in wedding, feedback through the individuals recommended that the training just isn’t regarded by feamales in Ghana as demeaning it does not offend any communal morality or societal ethos because they think. There clearly was a public feeling of ownership of this bride cost training among people.