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BRIDE PRICEIs itmodern dayslavery?

DEDICATIONTo all the women of Kenya

AcknowledgementsThis baseline survey was conducted jointly by Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) and MIFUMIBride Price Network through the support of DFID-UK to determine the nature and significance of bride price and therole it plays in perpetuating domestic violence in communities particularly in North Meru and Kisii Districts.CREAW wishes to acknowledge and thank all those individuals who have contributed to the production of this Report.We would like to thank Patrick Ndira and Atuki Turner together with the entire staff of MIFUMI-Uganda and MIFUMIPrompt for envisioning and initiating this regional project and through whose dynamic leadership this project wasborn. We also wish to thank Mr. Kamau Mubuu, the lead consultant in the technical team involved in designing thesurvey. We would further like to thank Michael Wachira and Faith Mwende who were the lead researchers in thisSurvey and who compiled the report under the guidance of the Executive Director, Ann Njogu, who we also wish tothank profoundly for her passion, vision and support.In addition we are grateful to the Deputy Executive Director- CREAW, Emmah Munyambu, for her comments and herpatience together with Joseph Wambuki and the entire staff at CREAW who were instrumental in the finalization ofthis report by submitting their respective comments on the same, which were edited and incorporated into the reportby Elizabeth Njuguna, whom we also thank.We would further like to thank Zackayo Lintari who facilitated the carrying out of this survey in Nkomo, Kimanchiaand Limauru locations in North Meru District together with the key informants and participants in those locations. Wewould also like to thank Geoffrey Mogoire who facilitated the carrying out of this survey in Bogiakumu Bomarendaand Bonyanchaire locations in Kisii District together with the key informants and participants in those locations.To all of you we say thank you!i

ForwardTracing the origins of bride price would be as elusive as tracing the origins of marriage for since time immemorial thetwo have existed hand in hand.There however, in recent times seem to be conspicuous and emerging trends that point to the practice beingcommercialized in different societies thus reducing the woman to the status of a “cash cow” and a chattel forbargain.The increasing commercialization of this cultural system disenfranchises and denudes the African woman of her basicfreedoms as the payment of bride price serves to immediately remove her economic, social and sexual rights and vestthem in her husband who then acquires absolute ownership of the woman as a result of paying bride price.This reduces the woman into the husbands “property” with the husband having full authority over her. As a resultmany women have found themselves in abusive marriages.Further more, the haggling and bargaining that characterize present day bride price negotiations totally denigrateswomen as human beings deserving being treated with dignity. It is indeed, a clear violation of the Convention on theElimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that requires women to be treated with respectand dignity1 . There is therefore need for deep reflection on the institution of bride price whilst also seeking a radicalreform of the same to protect the women’s human rightsIt is indeed time for us to reassess the practice of bride price to enable us to not only safe guard the dignity of thewoman but also safe guard cultural heritage because commercialization of the practice not only erodes its originalintention and significance in marriages but also tends to have serious human rights implications on the life of thebride to be.JUDY THONGORI –CHAIRPERSONCREAWii1. CEDAW-Conventionon the Elimination of Allforms of DiscriminationAgainst Women

TABLE OF CONTENTSChapter 1: Introduction1.1Statement of the Problem1.2Objectives of the Study1.2.1General Objectives1.2.2Specific Objectives1.3Study Assumption1.4Significance of the Study1.5Definition of Key TermsChapter 2: Literature ReviewChapter 3: Methodology3.1.Site selection and Site Description3.1.1North Meru District3.1.2Kisii District3.1.3Sample Design and Sampling Procedures3.1.4Data Sources and Data Collection Methods3.1.5Data Analysis Interpretation and Presentation3.1.6Limitations of the StudyChapter 4: Discussion of the Findings4.1Introduction4.2Socio-Demographic Characteristics of theRespondents4. of RespondentsEducational Level of RespondentsMarital Status of RespondentsOccupation of RespondentsSignificance and nature of Bride Price among thestudied communities4.3.1Payment and significance of Bride Price4.3.2Nature of and mode of Bride Price among the Meruand Gusii4.3.3Influence of Bride Price on Marital relationshipsChapter 5: ConclusionChapter 6: Recommendations for Reforms6.1National Survey on Bride Price and itsRelation to Domestic Violence6.2Analysis of Data6.3.Legal Reforms6.4.Advocacy Campaigns6.5Poverty Eradication6.6Monitoring and Evaluation6.7Media 1112121212131521232323242425252526

1.0 IntroductionThis study sought to determine the relationship betweenbride price and the incidences of violence againstwomen among selected communities living in NorthMeru and Kisii districts, Kenya. It particularly focusedon how ‘commercialization’ of bride price relates to prevalenceand extent of domestic violence. The two communities wereselected for the study because CREAW had already establishedstrong links with them as a result of having worked closelywith them at grassroots level. CREAW had indeed workedwith various like-minded Community Based Organizations(CBOs) most of which had felt that domestic violence is onthe increase in these regions. One of the hypothesized causesto this scenario was commercialization of bride price whichmakes male spouses perceive to have bought their wives. Inthe event of any domestic misunderstanding, men who havepaid hefty bride price would therefore vent their frustrationthrough perpetration of violence to their wives.that indicate marriage and unless waived and only in veryrare and exceptional cases , payment of bride wealth is anessential element of a valid customary marriage.Although bride wealth serves a definite role in the institutionof marriage and its payment is accompanied by veryelaborate ceremonies, it would appear that it is very muchcommercialized today where parents to a bride-to-be seizethe opportunity to enrich themselves. The argument is usuallythat such parents are recovering the expenses of bringingher up, educating and providing for her, all which are partof their parental duties. The haggling and bargaining thatcharacterize present day bride price negotiations totallydenigrates women as human beings deserving being treatedwith dignity. It is indeed, a clear violation of the Convention onthe Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) that requires women to be treated with respect anddignity2.Although marriage among African communities is aninstitution that links families and clans through the comingtogether of a man and a woman, it may also be viewed as acommunal affair that creates an alliance between the relativesof the duo rather than a contract between them in a westerntype of marriage. As a result of this communal involvementa father can bring an action to recover bride wealth fromthe man who is living with his daughter in circumstancesThe practice of Bride Price has in recent times begun to loseits original symbolic meaning, function and significance andassume the form of a “wife-for-property” exchange. Thisstudy will show that most husbands who continue to abusetheir wives always justify their actions by claiming that theypurchased their wives, which gives them property rights overher. The property rights of course include the right to use,misuse and abuse!12. CEDAWConvention onthe Eliminationof All forms ofDiscriminationAgainst Women

1.1 Statement of the Problem3. Kavata’s case onlyprosecuted afterpublic outcry andeven then wasafter she had died4. Convention onThe Eliminationof All Forms ofDiscriminationagainst Women(CEDAW),TheUniversalDeclaration ofHuman Rights,The BeijingPlatform forAction, TheDeclaration onthe Elimination ofViolence againstWomen ( ViennaDeclaration, TheOptional Protocolto the AfricanCharter on Humanand People’s rightson the Rights ofWomen In Africa.This therefore gives credence to the assertion that violenceagainst women is a ubiquitous feature of the Kenyan society.Cultural prejudices also play a huge role in ensuring thatwomen remain submissive and obedient to their husbandsand cultural practices such as that of bride price bestow uponthe groom total control over his wife as payment of brideprice ensures that he has not only purchased a wife but alsoacquired proprietary rights over her.Domestic violence perpetuated by partners and close familymembers on women has long been a matter of silentsuffering within the four walls of the home. In Kenya, thephenomenon of domestic violence against women has beenidentified primarily as a private concern. Not until grievousbodily harm is inflicted and possibly death of a victim are thelaw enforcement agents willing to move3. This has limitedthe extent to which legal resolution to the problem has beenactively pursued if at all. Indeed, in Kenya to date, we haveno laws that criminalize domestic violence. This is despitethe fact that Kenya has signed and/ or ratified internationalinstruments4 that guarantee equality, respect for humandignity, and respect for human capacity to make responsiblechoices.The practice of paying bride price in Kenya is solely in thepreserve of customary law which is not codified. As such thenature and extent of the practice differs with each community.However in recent times the commercialization of bride pricehas seen some parents who under the mistaken belief thatthey can alleviate their long term strategic poverty throughshort term practical needs, quote exorbitant figures as brideprice in order to unjustly enrich themselves.Unfortunately it would appear that many women in Kenyaespecially in the rural areas are not aware of their basicrights in a marriage and thus tend to fall victims of domesticviolence.One of the latest studies on Domestic violence in Kenya5,which is a government report therefore mandating a degreeof skepticism out of the governments notorious downplayingof social problems, nonetheless paints a grim picture whichmeans the reality is probably worse. The study finds that 44%of married women divorced or separated aged 15-49 reportthat they have been physically or sexually violated by theirhusbands or partners while 29% said they had been victimsof such violence in the year preceding the survey.The Kenyan Penal Code inter alia criminalizes violence againstthe body of a person and categorizes the same into generalassault, bodily harm and murder with varying degrees ofthe same offences. It does not specifically outlaw domesticviolence nor prescribe a punishment for it.On the other hand, the current Constitution outlawsdiscrimination on the basis of gender ,sex religion, age orrace, but the same provision takes that guarantee away undera claw back clause that states that such discrimination isnot outlawed in matters of personal law including marriage,divorce, succession among others.The domestic Violence (Family Protection) Bill, 2000 that wasintroduced into parliament in 2000 has to date not mademuch progress in parliament. Similarly the gains for womenthat were incorporated in the Bomas draft which soughtto outlaw specific violations against women particularlyThese Government figures contrasted with those of a privatesurvey6 which stated that a staggering 83% of womeninterviewed reported physical abuse and that 60% of marriedwomen reported that they were victims of domestic abuse.2

discrimination and also sought to recognize International andregional treaties as a source of law for Kenya are now fearedlost with the Constitutional Review process having gone offtrack.Other significant and pending bills include the SexualOffences Bill (which as at the time of going to press had justreceived presidential assent) that was specifically watereddown by parliament to include inter alia, the legalizationof marital rape amongst other outrageous provisions. TheHIV Aids Bill is still pending in parliament while the Protocolto the African charter on Human and Peoples Rights on theRights of Women in Africa has yet to be ratified by the Kenyangovernment.1.2.2 Specific ObjectivesThe specific objectives of the study were to: Determine the nature and significance of bride priceamong the North Meru and Kisii communities in Kenya inrespect to marriage relationships. Examine the effect of payment of bride price on thequality of relationships among married couples in the saidcommunities , Determine whether the said communities feel the needto address the issue of bride price as a practice thatcontributes to domestic violence. Determine how the communities would like to address theissue of bride price and On this basis come up with recommendations on theinstitutional and legal framework to address the issue ofdomestic violence perpetrated due to bride price.Sadly too is the fact that the criminal justice system andcommunity institutions have shown little willingness, capacityand / or political will to ensure the protection of women fromviolence. Religion and tradition have also taught womento “respect” and stick to their abusive spouses. Further, theeconomic conditions prevailing in the country, the feminizationof poverty and the traditional norms of property ownershiphave had great adversarial effects to the whole dictates of thebalance of power.1.21.3Study AssumptionThe basic assumption of this study was that bride price hasnegative influence on marriage relationships, as one of thebasis of domestic violence , that bear negatively on the livesof women.Objectives of the study1.2.1 General objective1.4The general objective of the study was to establish therelationship between bride price and violence against womenwithin marriage among selected communities living in NorthMeru and Kisii districts in Kenya.To recognize sexual violence as a social ill within a socialpattern requires us to see it as a product of history. Sexualviolence and gender violence in general is a product ofgender relations. Over the centuries men have gained lots ofdividends from patriarchy systems. Patriarchy has produced asocial structure of inequality involving a massive dispossessionof social resources. Patriarchal definitions of femininity3Significance of the Study5. Central Bureauof Statistics (Government ofKenya);Kenyademographyand healthSurvey 2003report releasedin 2004.6. Johnston,TonyDomestic Abusein Kenya(Nairobi;populationCommunicationAfrica, 2002 p.10

7. Supra note 5&88. Please refer tonote 17 & 189. Child marriage,a cause for globalaction-EricaChong & NicoleHaberland.10. Masai- A uniqueand colourfulpeople –byAWAKE( A Kenyanwriter)11. UN- UnitedNationsConvention onthe Rights of theChild (CRC)12. UN- UnitedNationsConvention onthe Rights of theChild (CRC)The need for parents and kin to make financial gain out ofbride price is best manifested by the increase in the numberof early and forced marriages among certain communities inKenya for example in Nyanza where Child marriage is alsorelatively common. One out of three women aged 20–24 ismarried by age 189.(dependence, fearfulness) amount to cultural disarmamentsthat may be quite as effective as the physical kind.Given the high rates of domestic violence in Kenya7 andgoing by the information CREAW has obtained by workingwith the grassroots level communities, a formal study toidentify how the practice of bride price relates to domesticviolence is most timely and important to enable a wider andperhaps more objective understanding of the root causes ofdomestic violence. Though researchers have attempted toconceptualize and examine bride price in a number of ways,it would appear that little or nothing has been done to link thepractice with incidences of violence against women.Because marriage before 18 is prevalent in developingcountries, the practice becomes an obstacle to nearly everyMillennium development goal viz, Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger Achieving Universal Primary Education Promoting Gender Equality and empowering women Reducing child mortality Improving material healthAnthropological pieces on marriage and kinships8 tend tolean towards the nature and significance of bride price incertain communities in Kenya but does not fathom furtherinto the linkage between bride price and domestic violence.The girl-child is forced to marry or married off at an extremelyearly age when she may not appreciate her new status norhave the capacity to play her role effectively as a mother anda wife. Masai parents for example may arrange a daughter’smarriage while she is still an infant. The girl is promised toa man who possesses enough cattle to pay the bride pricedemanded by her father. Often she will be married to a manmuch older than herself and will take her place among theother wives in his household10.This study assumes that the practice of bride price is among themajor factors that contribute to domestic violence (especiallythat which is perpetuated to women by men) amongAfrican communities in general and Kenyan communities inparticular. The main goal of this study is therefore to explorethe prevalence, extent and nature of bride price practiceswith a view to suggesting how it can be addressed to reducedomestic violence meted to women.This is not to mention the complications that may come withearly conception and delivery. Early marriages deny thegirl- child her right to development and education that areenshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights ofthe Child11 (CRC) - Articles 6(2) and 28(1) respectively.Article 12(1) of the said CRC clearly provides that a child shallbe consulted on matters that affect his/her life in accordancewith his/her evolving capacities; Article 3(1) further providesthat all such decisions shall be in the best interests of the child12.In Kenya the practice of bride price is in the preserve ofcustomary law which is not codified and the nature and extentof the practice differs with each ethnic group. As such, thereare no hard and fast rules on the regulation of the practiceand this creates a loophole for parents who wish to alleviatethemselves from poverty to misuse the practice to unjustlyenrich themselves by demanding high Bride Price.4

The forced marriages in which most girls find themselves inare in total ignorance of the opinion of the girl and in mostinstances are definitely not in the best interests of the child.asset that is made by or on behalf of a prospective husbandto the bride’s family in certain cultures or societies.The terms dowry and bride price are often erroneously usedto refer to the same concept but in reality differ substantially.Dowry according to Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia is agift of money or valuables given by the bride’s family to thatof the groom at the time of their marriage.As can be seen from the foregoing, most of the datasurrounding the issue of domestic violence is not centeredon Bride price as the root cause of domestic violence butrather tends to portray domestic violence as a phenomenonbrought about by factors such as poverty, lack of awarenesson human rights and ignorance of the general law etc. Thereis therefore the need to engage in the area of bride priceand domestic violence in order to generate empirical datathat could be used to determine the extent to which BridePrice perpetuates domestic violence and thereafter lobbyappropriate legislative measures to discourage the practice.Moreover, data generated by such a study can be useful ingenerating new knowledge that could be shared among likeminded stakeholders in the general area of human rights inorder to claim and protect women from undue violations inmarriage relationships.1.5 Definition of Key termsBride Price:According to Wikipedia – The free encyclopedia, bride pricealso known as bride wealth or a dower is an amount of moneyor property paid to the parents of a woman for the right tomarry their daughter. Or the payment is an exchange for thebride’s family’s loss of her labour and fertility within her kingroup.The free dictionary by Farlex describes bride wealth as apayment in the form of money or property or other valuable5

2.o : Literature Review13. The BibleBook ofGenesis 29:18King Jamesversion14. Kenya (JamhuriYa Kenya)– NobertBrockman15. Kariuki,C.W. (2004)Masculinityand AdolescentMale Violence:The Case ofthree SecondarySchools in Kenya16. Davison J(1989) Voicesof Mutira :Lives of RuralKikuyu Women17. Supra note 10Tgiving a large number of the bride’s family a material stakein the perseverance of the marriage, a form of maritalinsurance14.he practice of Bride Price is an age old practice dating asfar back as ancient times. In the Bible the most notablerecording then being in the Book of Genesis where Jacobseeking the hand of Rachel pledges to serve her father forseven years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage13. This isperhaps one of the earliest recordings of a practice that hasevolved throughout time and exerted influence on customarypractices on marriage the world over.Kenya is typically a patriarchal society and the element ofmasculinity is deeply entrenched in the cultural practices ofKenyan communities. For example, a quick comparison ofthe vocabularies on gender in the Kikuyu language revealsthat the word for man, mundu-murume, comes from the wordurume, which means extremely courageous. In contrast, theword mutumia (woman) comes from the word tumia, whichmeans to “shut up” or condone. Thus men from the Kikuyuethnic community not only define themselves as the dominantsex, but also in terms of the norm of seeing that womenmerely exist for their use (Kariuki 2004)15. In the voice ofa Kenyan woman who recounts the advice she got from hermother prior to marriage: respect him (her husband) and dowhat he wants lest he demands back the ruracio (bride-price)that had been paid (Davison, 1989)16. There is thus everyreason to believe that the Kenyan society has socialized themale to think of females not only as subordinates, but also astheir instruments17.Closer to home, the practice of bride price has alwaysfeatured as a significant part of African customary practicessurrounding marriage and it would appear that it plays bothsymbolic and economic functions in the community in whichit is practiced.The symbolic functions of the practice include the paymentof bride price as a sign of appreciation to the parents of thebride and also to signify a bond that ties the two familiestogether. Its economic functions assume an important rolein the distribution of property and this is characterized bythe intended groom providing to the parents of the girl asubstantial amount of money and/ or goods before themarriage can be contracted.Bride price payments have been interpreted in numerousways. In many cases, groups justify the practice by claimingthat the wealth received compensates them for time andtrouble taken to raise a daughter who will be sent off to livewith another family. In others, it is viewed as compensation forIf a marriage is not successful, the Bride Price will be returned,it is a further indication that marriage is primarily seen as thealliance of families rather than an interpersonal commitmentbased on love. Marriage is cemented by the bride wealth,6

the loss of a daughter’s economic services or for the childrenshe adds to her new family. For example, among the Dani ofNew Guinea three separate conjugal assets are recognizedin transactions that are separated in time. A man must makegifts of special valuables, such as pigs, shells, or stones to hiswife’s family when:1.2.3.(somewhat ironically, seeing as they had much less livestockto exchange than the cattle-herdingfor example, whohad and still have very low bride price). The phenomenon wasin part caused by the equivalent of an inflationary spiral: in asociety where cattle were both prestige goods and ill-adaptedto the wet and hilly environment, where every father fearedbeing left in the lurch by finding that the bride wealth whichhe had accepted for his daughter would not suffice to get hima daughter-in-law in turn; therefore he was always on thelook out for any signs of a rise in the rate, and tended to raisehis demands whenever he heard of other fathers doing so.He first contracts a marriage and his bride startsworking on his farm,He acquires sexual rights over his wife and consummatesthe marriage, andHis wife bears a child.One highly contentious result of this, according to the NorthAmerican anthropologist Robert LeVine, was two famousmass outbreaks of rape in Gusii-land, in 1937 and 1950.According to his research, the bride price in both those yearshad soared beyond the reach of young Gusii men.Among the Igbo, the bride price is more narrowly thought ofas a payment to acquire rights in the children of the marriageand must be returned if a woman is barren or leaves themarriage before producing children18.Among tribes like the Nuer, Turkana, and Maasai, borrowingto make up the agreed upon bride price puts the groom indebt to his older male relatives for many years. The bride’sfather usually disburses the payment in turn as bride price forhis sons and nephews. As a result, the community’s wealthis circulated. Among these tribes, the bride’s family has astrong economic interest in keeping her marriage togetherbecause a divorce would require the return of the bride price,which often has already been given away to relatives. If thereare children, however, the bride price usually does not haveto be returned, but they belong to the groom’s family. Hekeeps the children instead of the bride price. In a sense, thebride price becomes a payment for children and, therefore,has also been referred to as “progeny price”.19There have been articles published which also suggest thatamongst the Kisii community there was a practice of “marriageby abduction “.Academics describe marriage by abduction as the practicewhereby a man takes a woman by force, rapes her and thenattempts to use the stigma of rape and, should she becomepregnant, the shame of pregnancy to secure their marriage(Journal of African History 2003, 242 n2; Associate Professor22 Sept. 2003a). An article in the Journal of African History byBrett Shadle of the University of Mississippi indicates that thepractice occurs when a man cannot afford the required brideprice, a payment made by the husband to the wife’s family inorder to establish a marriage (2003, 242 n2; - Excerpt fromissue papers and extended responses ( KEN 41968.Efrom the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)Shadle’s research shows that, historically, marriage byBride price was always relatively high among the Gusii, asindeed it was for many other agricultural Bantu-speakers718. BrianSchwimmerBride Wealth19. Dennis O’neilMarriageRules Part ll

20. Excerpt fromissue papersand extendedresponses(KEN 41968 Efrom theImmigrationand RefugeeBoard ofCanada)abduction occurred among the Gusii in the 1890s, 1940s,1950s and 1960s (Journal of African History 2003, 245248). During these periods, the bride price rose to heightsunattainable by most men as a result of drastic changeswithin the economy (ibid.). Despite the practice’s historicalprecedence, however, an assistant professor of history at theUniversity of Mississippi, who wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on theprevalence of runaway wives, eloped daughters and abductedwomen in Gusiiland, in the period between 1900 and 1965,said in correspondence with the Research Directorate that hebelieved the practice no longer existed among the Gusii andthat if it still did, the courts would rule in favour of the women(ibid.).However, a Gusii-born associate professor at Jackson StateUniversity said that although marriage by abduction is not ascommon as it has been, it does still exist (18 Sept. 2003a).The associate professor also said that a man, unable to paythe bride price or in competition for a girl he wishes to marry,will follow her until she is alone. While she is collecting wateror firewood, for example and then will literally grab her andcarry her home with him (Associate Professor 18 Sept. 2003a).Even if someone witnesses the abduction, no one will intervenesince it is a practice that is neither condemned nor condoned(ibid.). The man then brings her to his home and rapes her(ibid.). No longer a virgin, she becomes unappealing to othermen and more receptive to her abductor’s efforts to eitherencourage or shame her into staying with him in order tospare her family and her clan any embarrassment (ibid.).On a final note about marriage by abduction, the associateprofessor said that if a girl or woman decides to remain withher abductor, he will eventually need to pay the bride price tosanction the marriage (ibid.)20.8

3.o : MethodologyTcommunity. It has a total population of 498,880 inhabitantswith a male population of 248,027 and female populationof 250,853. The population density is 167 people per squareKm. North Meru has the third lowest unemployment rate inEastern Province and is the 7th overall in the country. Primaryschool enrolment rate is 74.6% and the secondary school isstands at 27% meaning that so many pupils do not proceedto secondary schools. The largest numbers of these are girls.It has the 5th largest population in Eastern province.his study was basically an exploratory survey on thenature and significance of Bride Price and the extent towhich it perpetuates domestic violence amongst somesections of Kisii and North Meru communities in Ke

4.3.1 Payment and significance of Bride Price 12 4.3.2 Nature of and mode of Bride Price among the Meru and Gusii 13 4.3.3 Influence of Bride Price on Marital relationships 15 Conclusion 21 Recommendations for Reforms 23 6.1 National Survey on Bride Price and its Relation to Domestic Violence 23

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