Bride price lowered, fine imposed on lavish weddings
SHARAN (Pajhwok): The rate of walwar (bride price) has been brought down and a cash fine imposed on unnecessary expenditure on lavish wedding meals in some district of southeastern Paktika province, a reform body said on Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Paktika Reform Council head Abdul Hai Sahibzada said they stoutly supported by local tribal elders in lowering the walwar in the provincial capital, Yousafkhel, Mata Khan and Sar Roza districts.
“For unmarried youth, the bride price has been fixed at 250,000 afghanis and 350,000 afs for a man tying the knot for a second time,” he said, recalling that the rate previously ranged between Rs1 million and Rs3 million.
Under the council’s decision, he added, no one was allowed to spend lavishly on marriage ceremonies in the said districts. Anyone violating the decision would have to pay a hefty fine. But he stopped short of saying if anyone had been penalised so far.
Without putting a specific figure on the fine amount, Sahibzada hoped the move would help alleviate the plight of young men, who could not afford to pay heavy bride prices and thus remained unmarried, or spent precocious years of their lives, toiling their way to marriage in foreign climes.
Azizullah Azizi, a resident of Sharan, believed a reduction in the walwar amount and other social reforms would help reduce the level of domestic violence. He called for the government, tribal elders and religious scholars to help the council implement its decision.
An inhabitant of Sarobi district, Saleem Baryal, confirmed many youth in Paktika and other provinces could not wed because of prohibitively high walwar rates. “Economically, it’s impossible for a man in his 20s to observe unfair and back-breaking customs.”
Salma Wafa, hailing from Sharan, argued the high bride prices often translated into tensions between the families of the bride and groom. She underlined the need for cutting the rates in the interest of social cohesion and harmony between families, particularly impoverished households.
Religious scholar Abdul Hadi explained the Islamic Shariah cites only mehar, notwalwar, as a legitimate right of the woman after nikah. “Mehar is a woman’s financial right that is often ignored due to walwar,” he argued.
While stressing due respect for their rights, he said women should not be sold like animals. He put the minimum mehar at around 600 afs, without giving the highest limit.
In Islam nikah is a contract between a woman and a man (her husband) in lieu of mehar. It is a legal way to take benefits from each other. In line with this contract, the husband has to live with dignity and love with his wife. Whenever he terminates the nikah, the husband should do so with kindness.
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