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Tribal council sets limit for marriage costsWritten by Muhammad Yaseen Yaseen
Sunday, 13 February 2011 08:47
Tribal elders in the center of Paktika Province, Sharana, have decided to ban expensive marriages and limit high `Mahr' (money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage) and dowries in a bid to extricate families from the backbreaking financial burdens of weddings.
A local tribal assembly called the "Corrective Council" has issued a verdict calling on the people to stop paying and taking large amounts of cash in the form of Mahr and dowry because of its negative social repercussions. Some 35 religious scholars also endorsed the verdict adding Islamic weight to its local acceptance and enforcement.
"We took this decision to end a corrosive practice which hurts everybody in the province," said Abdul Hai Sahibzada, the head of the Corrective Council, adding that money requested by families in the province for a marriage ranged from 100,000 (about US$2,200) to over 1 million Afghanis (about $21,000).
"We have decided that marriage money must not exceed 150,000 Afghanis… this will reduce marriage costs by 70 percent," said Sahibzada.
Compliance with the verdict will be monitored by the council members and violators would be fined and risk losing their social and tribal tries, he warned.
The verdict has been warmly welcomed by the male youths in the Pashtun province. In order to meet the high financial costs of their marriages, most young men from Paktika migrate to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran and other regional countries for work.
"This will change our lives for good as we will not need to migrate abroad to earn our marriage money," said Mir Hassan, a resident of Sharana.
Baryalai, 25, was engaged four years ago but has not wedded his bride because of the high cash payment he agreed to pay his in-laws. "My monthly income is about 5,000 Afghanis but I have to pay 800,000 as marriage money to my in-laws," he said.
Mula Mirza Khan, a member of the religious scholars' council of Paktika Province, said that high marriage payments were also inconsistent with Islamic rules and jurisprudence. He said high marriage costs, though proscribed by Islam, were dictated by customs and social practice in some areas.
Similar tribal verdicts are also issued in some districts of Pakitika where the practice is common.
A report by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit released in November 2010 said high marriage costs had crippling impacts on a majority of the poor Afghans and needed to be addressed by appropriate state intervention.