Ugandan women no longer have to refund their “bride price” after a failed marriage, according to a new ruling from the country’s Supreme Court.

Under the original custom, women were ordered to pay a refund—which most likely meant returning livestock gifts—if the marriage ended. The court officially banned this practice, stating that it treats women as a commodity and also makes it tougher for women seeking divorce. Moreover, women in Uganda generally earn less money than men and can’t afford to pay out these refunds.

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While the judges didn’t rule the bride price practice as unconstitutional, the majority agreed that the process was demeaning to women. BBC notes that:

...traditionally the bride price is seen as an honour and a sign that the couple are entering into a respectful marriage.

Mifumi [the women’s rights organization that brought the case forward] said that bride price encouraged domestic violence and could lead a man to think that he had paid for his wife’s “sexual and reproductive capacity.”

Evelyn Schiller, a rep for Mifumi says, “This is a momentous occasion... and this ruling will aid the fight against women and girls’ rights abuses.”


Contact the author at clover@jezebel.com.

Image of a Ugandan wedding via Getty.