Dowry in Congo Objectifies Women
By DESIRE MAPALA
In my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a bride is seen as merchandise or an object.
That’s because a suitor typically pays dowry to his future in-laws: cash and goods, such as clothes for the bride’s parents, cows, goats, beverages, blankets, kitchen utensils, refrigerators, radios, and televisions.
Some people call it a “sale.”
Dowry amounts are rising, yet unemployment is above 60%, so very few men can afford it.
The high price leads to objectifying women, who are seen as property.
One married woman I know of asked her husband why he came home so late. He told her,
I bought you with my money, you are my property and have no right to ask me questions like that. All you need to do is whatever I tell you. You have nowhere to go since your family has no money to get you back.
With this control, these husbands discourage their wives from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school. These men often seem to become abusers.
Since he has paid so much to get a wife he blames her for everything, insults her family and threatens to hurt her or the children. He can hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite her in the name of “love.” To him, other men are a threat and he accuses his wife of flirting with everyone in the neighborhood. The irony is that he is the one who cheats. Husbands are allowed to have sex with others, woman are not.
Married women do housework from sunrise to sunset and are exhausted. Despite this, they cannot say “no” to their husbands when asked for sex. Their husbands rape them and say, “This is why you are here.” Even her own family would condemn her for saying “no.”
That is the life many women in Congo are living. But they can’t denounce or report it for fear of being repudiated.
We must help women in my country, and everywhere, when they are abused. In Congo a traditional, small dowry could be a symbol of love and engagement. Not a business where the future bride is put on sale.
As a man I see the harm, and I seek to help everyone, including women, to open their minds and question a system that so hurts our women and children.
This was written by one of my students, Who gave me permission to post it.
Posted on December 18, 2015, in feminism, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged Bride Price, Congo, Dowry, feminism, sexism, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.