OpEd, Politics

The custom of stopping deceased wife’s burial until dowry is completed

By Joseph Akim Gordon

Traditionally, it is obligatory for a man and woman to get married and produce children; in cultural tradition, the meaning or objective of marriage is the procuration of children. A man must pay a dowry to the parents of the girl, but nowadays the dowry is commercialized, and the man is expected to pay 10 or 15 million SSP or 200 cows.

This is a big burden for a graduate who is newly employed and earning about 4,000 SSP per month. For this reason, most men go through the window, and once the woman is pregnant, she will be forced to join the man on the ground that after the delivery, the man is expected to pay dowry together with fines. Others will elope with the girl and later see the relatives of the girl; in this way, at least you will be able to stay with the girl and accumulate resources for the dowry. You can start paying your dowry by installment, and you can have children while you keep paying your dowry. But if it happens that the wife dies before the completion of the dowry, here your problems will multiply.

The dead wife will not be buried until you pay the complete dowry; it may take two or three days. In some rare cases, the husband will be thoroughly beaten and locked in the room where the dead is placed. Relatives or good friends will run here and there to secure resources for the in-laws. When the in-laws realize that the body of the wife is getting worse, once this happens, the relatives of the dead wife are divided over the issue, and finally, with a little dowry presented, they will allow the body to be buried. The question is, why should they wait until the death of their daughter and put pressure on her so that dowry is paid, so long as the daughter has children? No matter what happens, you will be able to get your dowry.

The keeping of the dead body of a wife is a health risk to the neighborhood; it is a criminal act to keep the dead body for a number of days. No matter what happens, the dead must be buried promptly to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Once this incident happens, the parents and the in-laws stop the burial process by reporting the case to the police so that the burial takes place swiftly and is safe for the people around. Money should not close our eyes and prevent us from seeing the danger exposed; money should not make us blind.

The issue of commercialized dowry is preventing young men from approaching marriage through the main gate. There are a few incidents where young men pay the dowry in full and allow the young lady to take the young lady as a wife without problems. There are now many women of marriage age who are unable to get married because of commercialized marriages. Because of this situation, we noted that women are the ones hunting for men for marriage, which is contrary to traditional norms and values. It is a man that starts affairs with a woman, and once there is a positive response, this will lead to marriage arrangements.

There are many cases of marriage violence. Regarding the payment of dowry, it is better that each community fix a minimum payment of dowry to avoid the current marriage crisis, in which many girls are accepting foreigners for marriage. When a girl has reached the age of puberty yet is unable to find a husband, many will be forced into prostitution, and young men, will seek cheaper marriages elsewhere. It is high time the communities in South Sudan and the government addressed the crisis in marriage.

The keeping of the dead body of a wife until the dowry is completed is wrong; you demand the payment of your dowry when your daughter or sister is still alive. To put a condition that your dowry is completed is not a wise action; better demand your dowry when she is still alive. This is a negative action if she has children; you still have bargaining power. Beating the husband of your daughter and all other punishments are simply exposing your ignorance; he never killed your daughter; she died of sickness, and the husband spent a lot of time trying to save her life, but in vain. The husband is not responsible for the death of his wife.

Let us think twice about the action that we take because if it becomes the norm, even one day you can also receive the same mistreatment from your in-laws.

The author can be reached through e-mail: akimgordon222@gmail.com


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