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Bari ranked highest dowry-paying community in S. Sudan – Research

Author: Koang Pal Chang | Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Photo by Jan Pospisil

Research by the Peace and Conflict Evidence Platform (PeaceRep) has shown that the Bari have the highest bride price in South Sudan, followed by the Nuer, Murle, and Dinka communities.

The research, on the other hand, ranked bride price among Shilluk, Kakwa, and Azandi communities as the lowest.

According to the study, Greater Bahr el Ghazal ranks the highest in dowry, followed by Upper Nile and Equatoria.

The research which was released on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, unveils the economic and social implications of bride price in South Sudan.

Titled “Bring Enough Cows to Marry: Brideprice, Conflict, and Gender Relations in South Sudan,” the report states that these communities charge an average rate of $400 US per head of cattle.

Most respondents of the survey reveal substantial difficulties in paying the bride price.

It provides the first comprehensive empirical assessment of bride price practices in South Sudan and sheds light on their profound economic, social, and gender ramifications.

The report is based on survey data gathered in April and May 2023 involving more than 4,400 respondents from all 10 states of South Sudan and insights from qualitative interviews and focus group discussions.

The report reveals that bride price, a longstanding tradition integral to marriage and societal status in South Sudan, varies significantly across regions and communities.

“Bride price is commonly understood to be high, even excessive by regional and international comparison and at the same time, accepted as an indispensable factor in keeping family ties and kinship intact, particularly among communities with pastoralist traditions,” the report noted.

The findings underscore the substantial financial burden bride price places on families, often leading to economic strain and challenges.

Key statistics from the study indicate a wide range of bride price amounts, with many families facing demands that exceed their financial capabilities.

This has profound implications for gender relations, contributing to inequalities and, in some cases, violence against women, it said.

The report shows that bride prices are commonly paid in instalments, with failed instalment payments acting as a potential conflict trigger in some parts of the country.

The report calls for actionable solutions, advocating for manageable bride price practices and pragmatic regulations to mitigate the socioeconomic and gender issues stemming from these traditional practices.

By addressing these challenges, the study aims to foster a more equitable and sustainable societal framework in South Sudan.

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