Mass marriage: A smart cost-cutting initiative
NEILI (Pajhwok): As many as 52 couples tied the knot at a mass marriage ceremony in Neili, the capital of central Daikundi province, on Sunday.
The mass wedding would help reduce violence against women and girls, as well as elopement cases, in the impoverished country, officials hoped.
At least 50 cases of violence against women have been recorded in Daikundi province during the ongoing year, compared with 24 cases last year.
Some young boys and girls, who are unable to pay the high marriage costs, are forced to commit suicide or elope, facing dangerous consequences.
A few months back, a girl named Roshan committed suicide after her family disagreed to let her marry her cousin.
Women’s Affairs Director Zakia Rezayee said mass marriages not only decreased violence against women but it also prevented elopement incidents.
She told Pajhwok Afghan News many youth had to travel to neighbouring countries to earn enough money for meeting dowry demands. But mass weddings alleviated the predicament.
“Mass marriages help youth save the money they spend on wedding parties individually. That can be invested in gainful businesses,” Rezayee suggested.
In the group marriage that took place last week, guests were given only chocolates and there was no any food served to cut the cost.
One of the grooms, Ali Reza, acknowledged mass marriages drastically cut wedding expenses on the one hand and eased parental tensions on the other.
“An individual wedding party costs 500,000 to 700,000 afghanis. But I spent only 30,000 afghanis on purchasing some suits and other items,” he explained.
Marzia, spouse of Lal Muhammad, thanked organisers for making her marriage possible. “My fiancé did not have enough money to arrange our wedding,” she said, recalling that they engaged two years ago.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, each couple was gifted with home appliances worth $500 -- donated by the USAID.
Bashir Ahmad Rezayee, head of the charity that organised the event, said the main objective was to discourage the practice of lavish weddings and help poor couples start a new life. Similar initiatives have been taken in Bamyan, Balkh, Herat, Helmand and Ghazni as well.
Jan Muhammad Fazil, a local cleric, welcomed the move. “Mass marriage ceremonies bring down costs and provide much-needed convenience to the newlyweds.”
Efforts have been underway to bring down wedding costs but a draft law on the issue has been awaiting approval for years now.
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