Young campaigners force Yemeni parents to set lower dowries

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Young demonstrators in central Yemen launched a campaign to reduce marriage dowries to $1,000.

Local sources said that dozens of unmarried youngsters from al-Jarf village, in the Taaz governorate, 256 km south of Sanaa, demonstrated in the evening of the second day of Al-Adha, calling for a reduced marriage dowries.


Al Arabiya learned that the demonstration was a reaction to a recent incident where a future father-in-law in the village decided to raise the dowry of his daughter to 500,000 Yemeni riyals ($2,500).

Demonstrators visited all the houses of the village, forcing fathers and village elders to sign a pledge where they promise to refrain from setting a dowry costing more than 200,000 riyals ($1,000).

The demonstrators threatened to increase their demands in the event of anyone signing and then refusing to abide by their pledge.

The campaigners are seeking for a radical solution to the high rate of unmarried people in the village, and believe that lower dowries will encourage singles to get married.

Yemen suffers from a high rate of spinsters which has become a social phenomenon, boosted by the high levels of poverty and unemployment, coupled with tribal traditions that boosted marriage dowries exponentially.

Moujib Abdulwahab, a social researcher, told Al Arabiya that in many regions, especially those with a heavy tribal influence, the dowry asked by the bride’s father can be as much as 3 million riyals ($15,000).

Local sources noted that the reason behind high dowries in some regions is that most of the brides hold U.S. passports, with the dowry intended to cover the cost of travelling to the United States.

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