Want a bride? Not so fast: Young adults in Yemen who have decided to formalize the relationship with the choice of their heart are finding it difficult to pay the huge dowries demanded by their future brides’ parents.
The issue is not easily solved – as they live in an impoverished country with a high rate of unemployment. So how do they succeed in achieving matrimonial bliss? Dozens of young adults in the Taiz District located in the center of the country held a nighttime march in a village in the area, demanding that dowry
rates be lowered.
The catalyst to the protest was the sum of 500,000 Yemeni Rial (YER) – or approximately $2,500 – demanded by a father for his daughter – an amount not many can pay.
The young protesters threatened to escalate their actions if families refused to lower dowry amounts, and argued that decreasing dowries will help reduce the number of unmarried in Yemeni society by encouraging young people to tie the knot. They walked among the houses of the village and forced the fathers and elders of the community to sign a document prohibiting the increase of dowry to over YER 200,000 or about $1,000.
Young woman at protests in Saana (Photo: AFP)
The rate of single men in Yemen
is high, and it is exacerbated by several reasons. Growing poverty
and the rise in unemployment have made it difficult for young men to pay the large dowries, which were instituted by traditional tribal leaders.
Although the protest in Taiz succeeded, in many other places throughout the country, young adults are experiencing difficulties in carrying this burden placed on them prior to their wedding.
Majib Abad al-Vihab, an Arab scholar specializing in Yemenite society, said this week on the Al Arabiya
network that in many areas of the country, especially those that have strong tribal centers, "the dowry requested by the bride's father can be an amount ranging from YER 1.5 million (about $ 7,500) to YER 3 million (about $15,000). In the Av District, for example, which is located some 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the capital in Sanaa, dowry can reach no less than $40,000."
What leads parents to demand huge sums for their daughters’ hands in marriage? There are several answers to this question, including the desire of the parents to ensure the welfare of their daughter, and to fund a US visa.
In other places in the Arab
world as well, the young carry the burden of the high costs of marriage. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, recently introduced an initiative to reduce the costs of weddings held in the UAE
in order to lessen the heavy burden on young people who want to get married.
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