Do you believe a $50,000 dowry? [Archives:2008/1133/Community]

February 28 2008

By: Majed Thabet Al-kholidy
The title looks like an advertisement or a title for a fairy tale. However, it refers to a real story in the country of poverty, Yemen, as some international organizations categorize it.

The story happened in the one of the poor cities of Yemen. It is not the only case. But perhaps there are many similar cases with similar amounts of foreign currency.

The issue of costly dowries has been a hot topic in many social and religious discussions. It aimed to draw the fathers' awareness to the economic situation of Yemen and the destructive results that may occur because of spinsterhood. Many actual moral, social, economical and above all religious problems appeared as a result of this phenomenon.

Society witnesses some cases like an unmarried lady above thirty engaging in illegal relations. Others start looking for money from any source and by any means. Some others accept to marry old men and this leads to many social problems. And so on.

On the other hand, bachelorhood has also spread, especially in cities. Men are starting to ignore marriage, forgetting or trying to forget that it is half of their religion, as our prophet Mohammed says. The majority of such men say bad financial circumstances keep them from getting married. They cannot pay for the needs of marriage, especially when the bride is from the cities.

Now we have a case in which one gets married with a dowry of $50,000. This is the girl's father's first demand. Actually, the amount was higher, but after mediations and bargaining it was lowered to help the bridegroom, who is still at the beginning of his practical life, as the girl's father commented.

Hearing this actually makes every one of us ask, “What will be the dowry if the man is at the middle or at the end of his practical life”? The father always claims that he has helped the bridegroom a lot.

This is the initial demand the fathers of the two families agreed upon. What are the other demands? And to what extent will the girl's father help the bridegroom? The bridegroom really asked this question. His reply was, “Beating a dead person is useless,” meaning that since he has paid this amount, why care about any other demands?

One may think about the reasons that made the father ask for such a large sum of money. Again this question is asked and the bridegroom replies. “No qualifications, no additional features she has,” he said. She is not a superwoman. The only thing the bridegroom can say is that “she has American citizenship.”

Now it becomes clear why the father asked for this big amount and why the bridegroom accepts it. It is a deal to have a visa rather than to marry a partner in life. It is only a visa contract rather than a marriage contract. Where are the human concepts of love, partnership and social relations?

A marriage like this does not take love or the girl's opinion into consideration. It is not important if the man is good or not. What is most important is money.

The man marries mainly to travel to the U.S.A. I just wonder how his feelings will be toward his future wife. And how will the relations between the husband and wife be after traveling to the U.S.A?

Similar cases may take place. But, my point here to both the man's and girl's families is that money is not everything. Money can be a matter, but it comes after the other basic requirements like love and morals of the girl and the man as well. A visa is something good. But the matter must be thought about in the mind's eye for the right decision.

Majed Thabet Al-kholidy is a writer from Taiz, currently doing his M.A. at English Dep, Taiz Uni. He is an ex-editor of English Journal of the University.