Yemeni Youth & Dowry [Archives:2001/37/Culture]

September 10 2001

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Cultural Editor
Yemen Times
Dowry is one of the biggest problems that the Yemeni youth is facing. This is a very bad social phenomenon with numerous negative consequences. As young people cannot live decently with the girls they want to marry because of the high dowry requested by the bride family, many of them use illegal ways to be financially viable.
In this article, we will shed light on this social problem and reflect on the negative aspects caused by the huge increase in dowry.
God created both men and women to complement each other. They can not live separately. Therefore, Islam recommends marriage and pushes Muslims to marry to each other. Our prophet, our good and ideal example, married his daughter for an iron ring. He also married another Muslim for some verses from the Holy Qura’an. However, our society is currently suffering from the families demands for high dowry. The greed of some parents has gone beyond what words can describe. They ask for high amounts of money that most of the youth will never be able to afford. These parents look at their daughters as a commodity and nothing else.
The strict attitudes of parents in this regard has led to perversion and spread of immoral practices among many young people. Consequently, girls get married to a wealthy person or to an elderly whose number is rising. Youths find themselves helpless in such a situation. Therefore, they prefer to travel and look for job opportunities abroad. Most of them stay there and marry foreigners. I don not think that there is any available solutions for this phenomenon which has become part of our culture and conventions.
The expensive dowry and other requirements made by the girl’s family are not at all affordable. Due to all these endless requirements (parties, clothes, lunch party, qat, money for the money, and so one), the young Yemeni has to leave the girl he loves and then to remain bachelor. These conditions lay obstacles in front of the youth who wants to marry and have a stable life and many may be inclined to have a perverted life.
This problem comes from the society which is divided into three main segments: the wealthy segment, the middle class and the lower segments. The economic factor and the standard of living is the basis of this division.
The duty of the Islamic law on the question of marriage is to follow instructions and teachings of the prophet. So improving living conditions would not represent a problem with regard to high dowry.
In addition to the role of the citizen in the question of dowry, the activation of the law of dowry by the government is also one of the main factors of the problem. Both are concerned by the spreading of the problem awareness and providing services such as appropriate housing.
The national committee for women is supposed to discuss such matters and propose suitable solutions by holding meetings, implementing programs, and working out on future plans such as awareness symposiums to be aired on regular broadcasts of television and radio.