Bride Price Enslaved Me - Domestic Violence Victim

1605 Views Tororo, Uganda
In October 2008 the Tororo District Council repealed a repressive law legalizing the payment of bride price and replaced it with the new District Bridal Gift Ordinance. The ordinance, which makes bride price payments optional and removes requirements for repayment of dowry if a marriage id dissolved, was one of several major measures undertaken during the year to outlaw repressive dowry laws.
Despite this many women and men remain enslaved financially and physically by bride price.
Immaculate Akello, a 45-year-old widow from Tororo district, says that for years she was abused physically and psychologically because of bride price.
Akello was married off as a young teenager of 14 years. Her family demanded for six cows, five goats and clothing as payment for her marriage and sent her on her way.
Akello recalls that five days into her marriage, her husband laid down the law. He gave her seven commandments that she was to follow strictly if she was to remain his wife.
Akello was not to leave her home in the absence of her husband. Interaction with all her male relatives was forbidden and she was not allowed to participate in community activities. For Akello, taking a bath in the outdoors bathhouse was outlawed after 6 p.m. If she went to the well to fetch water, she was sent with a timer to ensure that she returned home as soon as possible.
Akello tells of an occasion when she responded to the casual greeting of a passerby and was beaten within an inch of her life by her husband. Her problems were worsened by her failure to conceive a child. Believing herself to be cursed, Akello endured the humiliation of her husband's numerous extra-marital affairs.
Once Akello attempted to confront her husband about his promiscuity. He picked up a charcoal stove and hit her with it, sending her to the hospital for three days.
//Cue in: iHe picked sigiri #i
Cue out: i# because of bride price.i//
Akello says that although her situation was unbearable, she could not leave because her family could not repay the bride price. She says her husband often told her that he had paid for her and had the right to treat her as he pleased.
With no financial independence and unable to return home, Immaculate Akello was prisoner of her marriage.
//Cue in: iI also face #i
Cue out: i# follow his instruction.i//
This year the Constitutional Court started hearing a petition seeking to abolish the payment of bride price as a condition for customary marriage. The case filed by the Tororo-based Mifumi Project is based on the argument that the bride price is an abuse of the dignity and welfare of women.
Akello was finally freed from her marriage with the death of her husband. She remarried and gave birth to four children, three who died in infancy. She says her first marriage robbed her of joy and now the death of her children has robbed her of the full experience of motherhood.
//Cue in: iI don't have a child #i
Cue out: i# as a mother.i//
Immaculate Akello is now an advocate against mandatory bride price. She uses her experience and her position as head of the Mifumi Advice center in Tororo to lobby and advocate for the rights of women to ensure that they receive justice against abusive spouses.