Parting ways

Thanks to one woman, Uganda bans practice of having divorced women pay back ‘bride prices”

In 2002, Florence Musidika, who was 27 at the time, divorced her abusive husband after he had tried to kill her with a grenade. Customary law in Uganda, however, mandated that her family must repay the bride price the man had paid when he married her, and — unable to pay back this debt — she was urged to return to her abuser to “try and be a good wife.” It is just one of the many stories which convinced Atuki Turner, founder of women’s rights organization Mifumi, to campaign against the bride price, as she argues it “devalues women and is at the root of much of the violence Ugandan women experience.” After an intensive, almost 15-year long campaign she finally won a major — yet partial — victory, as the Ugandan Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that refunding the bride price after a divorce is unconstitutional. But the court disagreed with Turner that the bride price itself was unconstitutional and upheld that practice. It is an amazing achievement, nonetheless, which could signal the beginning of a legal and cultural shift in the thinking about the practice. Turner said she was “euphoric” when hearing the news of the verdict. “The night before the ruling I couldn’t sleep but [as soon as I heard] I was shouting for joy. We have struggled for the last 14 years … I am really happy. My heart is full,” she said.

Read the full story at CNN.

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