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Bride Price (Lobola) and Gender-based Violence among Married Women in Lusaka

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Abstract

Background: This study investigated the influence of lobola, a payment made for marriage, on gender-based violence among married women in Lusaka's Kamanga compound. Specifically, the study sought to establish how married women and men perceived lobola in relation to gender-based violence in marriage. Method: The study used the qualitative research method. Participants in the study included eighteen married women and men. In addition, in-depth interviews using a semi-structured interview guide were conducted with five key informants. Results: The findings from the study suggest that paying lobola translated into buying a wife and as such, a wife became a husband's property. Lobola gave the man or husband powers to treat his wife as he wished, including subjecting her to sexual and other forms of abuse. This seems to take away a wife's rights to make decisions on matters that affected her own life such as being restricted in her movements, in choosing what to wear, and depriving her of a claim over her children among others. Original Research Article Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758 39 Conclusion: The study recommends that the Ministries of Justice and Gender and the Local Government should look deeply into the issue of paying lobola and correct the practice by deterring or reprimanding those who do adhere to its significance. Civil society should also lobby government to enact appropriate laws and policies to deal with patriarchy and help married women to enjoy their rights as human beings.
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*Corresponding author: E-mail: kusanth@yahoo.com;
Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science
33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
ISSN: 2456-981X
(Past name:
British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science,
Past
ISSN: 2278-0998)
Bride Price (Lobola) and Gender-based Violence
among Married Women in Lusaka
Patience Moono
1
, Kusanthan Thankian
1*
, Gaurav B. Menon
2
,
Sidney O. C. Mwaba
3
and J. Anitha Menon
3
1
Department of Gender Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zambia, Zambia.
2
Medical School, University of Central Lancashire, UK.
3
Department of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zambia, Zambia.
Authors’ contributions
This work was carried out in collaboration among all authors. Author PM designed the study,
performed the statistical analysis, wrote the protocol and wrote the first draft of the manuscript.
Authors KT and GBM managed the analyses of the study. Authors SOCM and Author AM managed
the literature searches. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Article Information
DOI: 10.9734/JESBS/2020/v33i830249
Editor(s):
(1) Dr. Prince Nwachukwu Ololube, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Nigeria.
Reviewers:
(1) María Malena Lenta, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
(2)
Jussara Carvalho dos Santos, University of São Paulo, Brazil.
(3)
Esther Awazzi Envuladu, University of Jos, Nigeria.
Complete Peer review History:
http://www.sdiarticle4.com/review-history/60758
Received 22 June 2020
Accepted 28 August 2020
Published 03 September 2020
ABSTRACT
Background:
This study investigated the influence of lobola, a payment made for marriage, on
gender-based violence among married women in Lusaka’s Kamanga compound. Specifically, the
study sought to establish how married women and men perceived lobola in relation to gender-based
violence in marriage.
Method: The study used the qualitative research method. Participants in the study included
eighteen married women and men. In addition, in-depth interviews using a semi-structured interview
guide were conducted with five key informants.
Results: The findings from the study suggest that paying lobola translated into buying a wife and as
such, a wife became a husband’s property. Lobola gave the man or husband powers to treat his
wife as he wished, including subjecting her to sexual and other forms of abuse. This seems to take
away a wife’s rights to make decisions on matters that affected her own life such as being restricted
in her movements, in choosing what to wear, and depriving her of a claim over her children among
others.
Original Research Article
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
39
Conclusion:
The study recommends that the Ministries of Justice and Gender and the Local
Government should look deeply into the issue of paying lobola and correct the practice by deterring
or reprimanding those who do adhere to its significance. Civil society should also lobby government
to enact appropriate laws and policies to deal with patriarchy and help married women to enjoy their
rights as human beings.
Keywords: Gender; gender based violence and lobola; violence.
1. INTRODUCTION
In Zambia, like many other parts of Africa, when
people marry, a payment is made for marriage
[1]. This payment is known as dowry, bride price
or lobola in Southern Africa. Paying lobola is a
customary practice in marriage where a groom’s
family and kins transfer a certain amount of
money and goods to the bride’s family as
commitment to marriage. Lobola marks the
beginning of marriage which is one of the rites of
passage marking acceptance of the groom and
the bride by both families and society at large as
a couple [2]. Lobola creates a relationship of life-
long commitment of mutual support between
both families of the bride and groom [3]. In many
African societies including Zambia, lobola is paid
by the groom’s family to the bride’s family [3, 4].
However, in some societies, it is the bride’s
family that pays the groom’s family, and this is
broadly termed as dowry [5].
In pre-colonial societies, the practice did not
require the payment of money. Alternatively, it
was paid in form of cattle or other animals and
items such as some jewelleries, cans of local
brew or bags of maize. The items given
symbolised a token of appreciation. Paying
lobola was a way of thanking the in-laws for
bearing and rearing a wife for man [5,6,7]. It was
also a way to compensate the loss of productivity
that the bride was providing to her family and for
economic costs incurred in bringing her up [7].
The practice of paying lobola seemed to have
operated beneficially for both the groom and the
bride in the past. It provided formal recognition
for marital relationships including protecting the
wives against abuse. When lobola is paid, a man
attached value to a woman he pays for [8].
Lobola makes a woman an ‘official wife’ and
seals a woman’s status as a worthy woman in
the eyes of all. It legitimatises marriage as it
confirms the cultural symbolism of accepting the
groom and the bride into each other’s family.
Lobola is a unifying factor in binding and
cementing the relationship between the couple
and the two families joining together [6]. It is
fundamental in validating marriage in that it
shows the seriousness and commitment of a
man. Without bride price the man would take it
as a simple thing to marry and to divorce [9].
With the commercialisation of the bride price, its
cultural relevance is becoming less clear in
present times [6]. Kambarami findings reveal that
lobola now has a paradoxical role in the lives of
women [10]. On one hand, it places value on
women while on the other hand it degrades them
by fostering male dominance in the home and
relegating them to the position of appendages. It
is perceived that lobola gives a man all rights
whilst the woman loses freedom and rights. The
woman is even further reduced to the level of
acquired property especially in cases where
lobola was set at a high price. As part of the
patriarchal nature of society, it breeds inequality
and widens the social power gap between men
and women, thereby placing women in a
subordinate position [8, 9].
A study by Hague & Thiara in Uganda, identified
some adverse effects of lobola such as husband
abused their wives through rape as well as
viewing wives as their properties, among other
things [11]. Furthermore, Asiimwa in Uganda
observed that the payment of bride price
reinforces masculinities and femininities that do
not only create, but also reinforce male
dominance and female subordination and
sometimes results in wife abuse [12]. Through
the commercialisation of lobola, the practice has
lost much of its traditional value in more recent
times as it has assumed some new features
[13,14]. Lobola seems to generate a lot of debate
to an extent where some call for its abolition on
account that it reinforces gender inequality and
contributes to gender based violence [6,9,15].
Zambia, like many countries in the sub-Saharan
region, have increased the payment of lobola in
recent times. Some tribal groupings where lobola
was not traditionally paid have now taken up the
custom [16,17]. Niner also notes that the
payment of lobola is becoming prevalent in
matrilineal communities that did not charge
lobola previously [3]. In the past, the practice is
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
40
said to have operated beneficially and gave
formal recognition to marriages and protection to
wives against abuse. However, some studies
show that through payment of lobola, a wife now
seems to appear as a commodity of the husband
and parent in-laws, and thus they are subjected
to abuse and ill-treatment [9,13].
Despite lobola playing a vital role in the institution
of marriage, in the contemporary era, it has
become more commercialised [17,18]. Most
studies done examining lobola focus on how this
practice is conducted and the cultural
significance attached to it [13]. Some studies
have generalised the escalation of bride price
and its effects on marriages. There are also
studies done elsewhere which show that making
lobola expensive has a paradoxical role for
women including perpetuating gender inequality
[9,19]. Domestic violence is a common
occurrence in Zambia [20]. However, there is
little information available on the relationship
between lobola and gender based violence in
Zambia. The main objective of this study was to
examine the influence of lobola on gender based
violence among married women in Lusaka’s
Kamanga compound. It specifically sought to
establish the perceptions of married women and
men towards the payment of lobola in relation to
gender based violence in marriage.
2. METHODOLOGY
This study used a qualitative research method.
This study was conducted in Lusaka city’s
Kamanga Township. The study population
included married men and women living in
Kamanga compound. Participants for the study
included eighteen married men and women. In
addition, in-depth interviews using a semi-
structured interview guide were conducted with
five key informants. An FGD is a carefully
planned group interview designed to obtain in-
depth information on a particular topic with
approximately 6–12 persons and each lasted for
about an hour. In total four FGDs were
conducted sepeartely for males and females.
Participants in each group had common
characteristics and belonged to the same
community, they were able to spur one another’s
thinking about their lived realities and
experiences regarding the influence of lobola and
gender based violence. They collectively brought
out ideas which could not have been produced in
one-to-one interviews.Focus Group Discussions
(FGDs) and in-depth interviews were captured
using a digital voice recorder and later
transcribed. Qualitative data was analysed
thematically which involved a systematic process
of identifying, selecting, categorising, comparing
and interpreting data to provide explanations
linking lobola to gender-based violence. The
analysis was an iterative process that involved
going in cycles to provide explanations. This was
followed by transcribing the data verbatim. Using
the typed text, the researcher later searched for
commonalities in the data and created themes
and categories following certain patterns and
relationships that emerged from the notes. These
were later used as a basis for interpreting and
understanding the data in the context of the
study objectives.
3. RESULTS
The study findings point to lobola having an
influence in a number of ways including limiting
women’s rights to children, women being viewed
as husbands’ property, limiting women’s decision
making power, limiting women’s control on
sexual matters, compelling women to do more
housework chores and enabling a husband’s
relatives to have power on women in marriage,
among others.
Focus group discussions with both men and
women as well as interviews with key informants
revealed that paying lobola gave men
(husbands) ownership to children. In a focus
group discussion, men argued that once lobola is
paid, a husband had rights over the children born
from that marriage. It was said that:
a man cannot easily get the children in
case of divorce, if he has not paid lobola. But
once lobola has been settled, the father
has power over the children.’ FGD
Participant).
Similarly, in a focus group discussion with
women, it was revealed that:
When a man marries, what he pays for in
essence are the children.’ FGD Participant).
If the children have not been paid for, they
remain with their mother’s in case of divorce. The
study findings also revealed that women submit
to their husbands when lobola is paid. A man has
power to treat his wife the way he wants when
lobola is paid but this may not be the case where
the payment is not done. One male participant
observed that:
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
41
it is not easy to have full control over your
wife if you have not paid lobola. But when
lobola is paid, you expect total obedience
from her. If you do not receive it, you can use
force to get what you want… she is under
your authority’ (FGD Participant).
Another participant in a focus group discussion
with men added that:
‘A wife has to do what her husband tells her
especially if the man paid [lobola] for her.
When you marry your wife, she should know
what you want and do not want and she
should obey you. I used to fight a lot with my
first wife because I would tell her do this or
that but she could not, meaning she did not
respect me. This forced me to divorce her
and married someone else who follows what
I want’ (FGD Participant).
Interestingly, the focus group discussion with
women also yielded similar findings. Women
attributed the payment of lobola to the abuses
that they were subjected to by their husbands.
For instance, one woman had this to say:
‘This lobola thing is not really helping us as
women. Some men say, you need to follow
my rules because I paid for you. Everything,
whatever I say you have to follow because
your parents sold you to me. If you cannot
follow my instructions, you are free to go but
you have to return what I paid’ (FGD
Participant).
Another woman in a focus group revealed how
her sister was forced by her own husband to
commit adultery with a rich man and a relative.
Once ‘caught’ the husband would demand to be
paid cattle for committing adultery with his wife.
According to that narrative, before her sister
agreed to the husband’s demands, there used to
be no peace in their home. She used to be
beaten up a lot by her husband. Another
participant in the focus group discussion with
women revealed that sometimes a man would
start practicing witchcraft and may want to
involve his wife by force to join him in the
practice.
Some men want to involve their wives in
witchcraft. Simply because you are his wife
and you were paid for, you are expected to
follow. As a wife you will be tattooed all over
your body with a razor blade with the
understanding that it will bring wealth to the
family and you will be one of the direct
beneficiaries. This lobola brings a lot of
problems to married women in homes. He
forces you to do things you do not believe in
because he paid lobola. Sometimes things
do not work at all but your body will be
physically damaged’ (FGD Participant).
The issue of lobola limiting women’s decision
making powers came out strongly from the
qualitative study findings. Women in particular
felt that lobola that husbands pay meant that
women had limited say or no say at all on major
decisions in their homes. It was reported by
women that failure to comply to the husbands’
wishes stood out among the major causes of
conflict and misunderstandings among couples.
One participant said:
As a husband, I tell my wife what I want and
she has no right to go against my decision. I
paid for her and that is how it should be. She
should support my decisions and not going
against them’ (FGD Participant).
In focus group discussion with women, one
participant lamented:
Lobola ties us to a point where we have no
freedom to make our own decisions. Before
marriage, he would consult me. Now he just
makes decisions on his own; even making
decisions on my behalf. If something
happens and he is not home, I have to wait
for him to come and make a decision’ (FGD
Participant)
Another finding that emerged from the study is
that lobola limits women’s control on sexual
matters. It was revealed that as a result of lobola,
some men view their wives as their personal
property and that they are entitled to having sex
any time they felt like. One female participant in a
focus group discussion said that denying a
husband sex was one of the reasons why some
men beat their wives. She said that:
Some men get offended when a wife for
whatever reason denies the husband sex.
The husband would force himself on you. If
she refuses, she can end up being beaten. It
is like lobola gives men power and control
over wives on sexual matter’ (FGD
Participant).
There was consensus among women in the
focus group discussion that it was lobola that tied
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
42
them to sexual violence by their husbands. One
participant added that:
The moment he says I paid a lot [lobola] for
you, you have no choice but to give in.
Sometimes when you deny him sex, he
would threaten to look for other women. For
the sake of peace, you just allow him to do
what he wants even when you are not ready
or even sick sometimes’ (FGD Participant).
From the findings, most women were powerless
on sexual matters when a husband had paid
lobola. It was revealed that when a man pays
lobola, sex is not at all supposed to be denied.
This view was re-echoed by almost all women.
Another female participant emphasized that:
It is like when a man pays lobola, he feels
he has bought everything. Some men would
even look for medicine (mutototo) to enjoy
sex and would say I want the money that I
paid to work’ (FGD Participant).
Another participant added that cases of sexual
abuse perpetrated by husbands in a home are
rarely reported as revealing perceived private
matters was considered to be a taboo. In her
own words, she said:
‘…Women who are sexually abused by their
husband sometimes opt to remain silent as
they are taught not to reveal bedroom
secrets. Doing so is considered taboo and
for fear of being reprimanded by their own
relatives, they would rather suffer silently and
not tell anybody’ (FGD Participant).
Interestingly, in a focus group discussion with
men, it also came out that there were men who
felt that because they paid lobola, they were
entitled to having sex with their wives anytime
they wished. One participant went on to say that
some men even beat up their wives when they
refuse to give sex to them. In his own words, he
said:
‘[Paying] lobola to some men is a passport to
have sex any time they want with their wives.
A man would say, because I have paid
lobola, anytime I want sex I should have it.
Even when a woman is not ready, they force
them to do it. Even when a woman has a
period, some men still demand to have sex
If the wife refused, the husband feels he has
the right to beat (FGD Participant).
Further, findings revealed that some men take
advantage to abuse their wives sexually because
they know what women are taught during
marriage counselling sessions. One man in focus
group discussion disclosed that:
We know that a wife is taught to give sex to
her husband any time he wants. A woman is
counselled for marriage only when
formalities for paying lobola are agreed
between the two families and it is a
responsibility of her own relatives to engage
a marriage counsellor for her to teach such
things’ (FGD Participant).
In a focus group discussion with women, it was
also revealed that due to lobola, some wives
have ended up contracting sexually transmitted
diseases including HIV and AIDS from their
husbands who refuse to use condoms or any
other forms of protection. She emphasised that:
There are instances where one couple
usually a husband would test HIV positive
and a wife negative and they may be advised
to use condoms to control the spread to the
partner, but simply because lobola, gives a
husband authority over a wife, some
husbands refuse. When a wife reports such,
she may be scolded at. It becomes an issue
that we already talked about of revealing
bedroom secrets’ (FGD Participant).
Another finding was that due to lobola husbands
expects their wives to do more housework. One
female participant in a focus group discussion
that:
When a man pays lobola he expects his wife
to do most household chores regardless of
the wife’s status or nature of job she has
society. He expects things like cooking,
washing and so on to be done by a wife.
Some men would say I paid for everything,
why should I look for another person to do
housework….’ FGD Participant).
Another woman added that:
‘When a man has not paid anything, a wife
can openly refuse to do what the husband
wants and sometimes she may even have
protection from her own family if it ends up in
conflict. This is not the case when lobola is
settled. If paid, even your own relatives take
sides against you when you refuse to do
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
43
certain things as demanded for by your
husband’. FGD Participant).
One other female participant in a focus group
discussion supported this saying that:
the benefits of a man paying [lobola] to my
parents is to find food ready when he knocks
off from work, washing, and taking care of
him when he is sick, sometimes even
feeding him like a baby. Anything he wants it
is me as a wife to do it for him.’ FGD
Participant).
There was general consensus among men in the
focus group discussion that some fights among
couples are influenced by the payment of lobola.
It was revealed that some men physically abuse
their wives when they do not do as expected by
the husband. Men want their wives to do
anything they want in the home because they are
paid for. Findings further revealed that failure to
do certain house chores like cooking by women,
leads to divorce because it is interpreted as a
sign of not having respect to a husband who has
paid lobola. One male participant in the focus
group discussion categorically said:
‘I divorced my first wife because she never
used to do what I want. I have married
another one who respects me and follows
what I want’ (FGD Participant).
A court official equally spoke of women’s heavy
involvement in household chores being attributed
to lobola. In her own words she said that:
Some men would tell their wives that I
bought you and I want you to work for that
money. This is real. We learn of women
experiencing such things when they come to
court. Some women even show marks left on
the body and face resulting from being
beaten by their husbands for not doing
certain things as expected by their husbands’
(Interview with a Court Official).
A focus group discussion with men revealed that
the payment of lobola ties a woman to the
relatives of the man. Once lobola, is paid, the
husband’s relatives have power over the
daughter in- law.
A focus group discussion with women further
revealed that married women experienced a lot
of interference from parents to husbands and
other relatives, especially mothers and sisters in-
law when lobola is paid. One woman
emphasised that a wife is expected by in-laws to
do everything for the relatives when they are
around. However, this was quite interesting when
it came to men. Men also shared the same view
that lobola played a role in giving powers to in-
laws to interfere their wives. The study findings
further revealed that failure by the wife to respect
her in-laws often resulted in resentment by the
husband’s relatives.
4. DISCUSSION
This study revealed different ways through which
lobola influences gender-based violence in
marriage. The findings show that lobola has an
influence on restricting women on the rights to
their children, influences them being viewed as a
husband’s property, limits their decision-making
power and their control over sexual matters in a
marriage, compels them to do more housework,
and empowers in-laws to have influence among
others. It was revealed that some women cannot
have rights to their children in the case of a
divorce because of lobola. Focus group and in-
depth interviews with marriage counsellors
revealed that women faced a lot of challenges
regarding ownership of their children especially
when they divorced as lobola gave men sole
ownership to children born from that marriage. It
was further revealed that the naming of children
in marriage was a responsibility of the father
once the payment of lobola was done. These
findings are close to the findings by Ngutor in
Nigeria which indicated that bride price is paid by
the groom to the bride’s family in exchange for
the bride and the children [5].
The study findings are similar to the Zimbabwean
case, where Dura acknowledged that lobola
payment is associated with the father having
rights over children because women are not
viewed as equal parents of children [19]. The
study further revealed that lobola makes some
men view their wives as their property making
them take a subornation position in marriage.
According to the study findings, the payment of
lobola compels some women to follow husband’s
orders in a home. Some men find it easy to
dictate what their wives should do when they had
paid lobola. In some cases, disappointed
husbands even end up sending their wives back
to their relatives to be taught more if their wives
did not follow their orders. It was further found
out that that the payment of lobola made some
men to go to the extremes by making
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44
unreasonable demands such as dipping a lump
of nshima (maize flour porridge) on a woman’s
private part, engaging in sex with a biological
daughter to the knowledge of their mother who is
threatened not to report, and being involved in
witchcraft just because she was paid for.
Findings of this study are quite close to Chireshe
& Chireshe’s findings which showed the payment
of lobola leads some husbands viewing their
wives as their property to be used as they
please, especially where lobola was highly
charged [9]. Study findings are also similar to
those of Khan & Hyati who showed that lobola
created unequal power relations between men
and women thus placing women in a subordinate
position [2]. One possible explanation behind the
local custom of lobola may be the patriarchal
roots of inequality between men and women.
The study revealed that most of the respondents
felt that the payment of lobola had an effect on
decision making of women in a marriage. This
showed that both men and women believed that
the payment of lobola did negatively affect
women in terms of decision making in marriage.
It was widely held that when men pay lobola,
women have limited say or no say on the major
decisions in their homes. The payment of lobola
exhibited negative attributes such as women not
being able to argue with the husband and not
being allowed to have any conflicting views from
the husband. Even where the husband is not
home and something happens, the wife had to
wait for their husband to make a ruling. Some
women felt that lobola did not help them but
disadvantages them in many ways. This included
healthy matters such as family planning. If a
woman went against a husband’s decision, then
the husband had the right to put her in the right
track by abusing her since she is under his
authority.
In all her endeavours, she has to be always
conscious of the existence of a man and must
serve and please the husband. This deprives her
personhood in terms of self-determination and
status of equality with her husband and be able
to exercise any of her rights [21]. This was
supported by Fuseini & Dodoo whose findings
also revealed that the payment of lobola deprives
a woman autonomy in all aspects of her life and
prevents her from full enjoyment of her rights and
gender equality as their decisions are influenced
by their husbands [22]. Fuseini & Dodoo further
contends that lobola reinforces the power that
men already have over women [22]. In this case
it can be possibly interpreted that some men
would violate women’s rights in decision making
because they feel they are the heads of the
family. When a woman begun to challenge a
man in decision making in a home, some men
felt that a woman was violating the patriarchal
norms and hence, some men respond to that
violation of patriarchal norms in a way that affect
women negatively.
The study revealed that lobola limits women’s
decision power in terms of sexual activity in
marriage. Some women are powerless on sexual
matters when a husband has paid lobola
because they perceive that sex should not be
denied. The study further revealed that as a
result of lobola, some men feel they have bought
everything including the private part and that they
are entitled to having sex in marriage any time
they felt like. This is because even in situations
where a wife knows she is at risk of contracting a
disease from her spouse, it is unlikely she could
persuade him to use a condom, and unprotected
sex follows. This is in accordance with what
Avias et al. and Ngutor who highlighted that the
practice [of lobola] appears to buy a wife as a
product, leaving women with limited control over
their sexual preferences [5,14]. Women do not
have control over sexual and reproductive health
and rights in terms of sexual preferences and
negotiating for safe sex. The findings were
further supported by a study conducted by
Muthegheki who established that women lose
dignity by being controlled by their husbands and
being used as sexual objects by their husbands
[23]. Furthermore, a Zambian study among
University students suggested that having
multiple sex partners increased with
advancement in university years attained with
more males likely to report having had more than
one sexual partner [24].
Similarly, Ngutor revealed that paying lobola
gives different marriage rights that men benefit
upon [5]. These include having power over the
wife’s identity, rights to sexuality, access and
control of her labour, as well as rights over
children born to his wife. Findings by Mangena &
Ndlovu seem to have the same sentiments and
contend that women do not have control over
sexual and reproductive health and rights in
terms of sexual preferences and negotiating for
safe sex [7]. Use of any form of protection
including condom use for safety or to control
reproductive health is also an issue where some
men have paid lobola. Men feel that the women
are disturbing what is rightfully theirs [7].
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
45
As regards to lobola influencing women to do
more house chores in a home, majority of the
respondents viewed lobola having influence on
women doing more house chores in a home
compared to men. Both men and women held
the same view that when a man pays lobola in
marriage, a woman is expected to take care of
house chores. It was felt that, the benefits of a
man for paying lobola is to find a woman has
cooked and washed for him. Further, a woman
was supposed to take care of the children. All
these chores had to be done regardless of a
wife’s status or job she has in society. Further, it
was felt that if a woman was a boss at work, that
status ended at work and she was expected to
balance up between her duties at home even
when she had a maid. These findings confirm
Khan & Hyati’s findings who established that in
situations where a wife may also be working and
earning income inside or outside the home, she
does not reduce her household duties [2]. Failure
to perform those house chores by some women
would lead to men being violent towards their
wives.
The findings are also similar to the Kenyan case,
where Onyango equally observed that bride price
implied thereby making a woman a beast of
burden [21]. These results mirror the studies
done by Khan & Hyati’s whose findings revealed
that lobola created clear division of labour
between a man and a woman because of the
status of a woman of being a husband’s property
[2]. It created rigid gender roles assigned to
women within the family and this promoted
gender inequalities. Women are seen as
nurturers and providers of support to men.
Anderson’s findings further revealed that women
could be punished if they were seen as being of
less value in exchange for what has been given
or as not executing their traditional role [4]. An
example of the Zambian study on urban sexual
behaviour survey found that men are considered
higher status and women with low socio-
economic status are limited in their ability to
negotiate safe sexual relationships [25].
The findings of this study established that the
payment of lobola ties a woman to the relatives
of a man, especially where they have also
contributed to the payment. The findings of the
study in a survey showed that 61 per cent of the
respondents agreed that lobola empowered the
relatives to the husbands over their wives. Some
respondents perceive the payment of lobola as
empowering the in-law to have control in their
marriages especially where a woman
misbehaves and does not care a relative of a
husband well. In such a scenario, the husband’s
relatives would interfere by controlling the wife in
her own home. Some relatives would want the in-
law they have paid for to show them respect by
doing what they want like sending her to do work
such as house chores for the family, especially
during the early marriage period.
This study findings are consistent with studies
done by Sithole’s that revealed that the payment
of lobola empowered the groom’s family, who
played a part in that marriage, to have control
and say in the marriage. Consequently, it gives
the groom’s relatives a right to control that
marriage 16]. Such relatives, especially the
women, expect the bride to do whatever they
wanted because they contributed to that
marriage [16]. This was further supported by
Niner who also revealed that, bride price led to
hostile treatment of wives due to expectations
linked to the exchange [3]. Some men also felt
that their relatives had powers to interfere in their
marriages. These men firmly argued that
relatives would not only interfere in a marriage
where they have contributed something towards
lobola but had powers over their daughters’ in-
laws regardless of who paid lobola. They viewed
their relatives as simply being their own eyes.
Therefore, they had the right to control her if she
was misbehaving.
Men in focus group discussion complained that
what was usually misunderstood to mean
mistreating a wife was when a wife was using
double standards that is, treating her own
relatives differently to the way she treated her
husband’s relatives. In support of this view,
Chuunga’s states that in situations where a man
is able to pay for dowry by himself, parental
involvement is still required [1]. In case of marital
difficulties (and even death of a spouse), parents
who were involved in establishing that marriage
come in to help. Contrary to Sithole’s and Niner’s
findings which revealed that the payment of
lobola gives powers over the wife to the
husband’s relatives who contributed something
towards payment to that marriage, findings in this
study revealed that relatives to the husband had
powers over the wife regardless of whether they
helped in paying lobola or not [3,16].
5. CONCLUSION
From the findings of the study, lobola seems to
influence gender based violence among married
women. However, the connection between the
Moono et al.; JESBS, 33(8): 38-47, 2020; Article no.JESBS.60758
46
two is more complex and not direct. More often,
in cases of gender-based violence where lobola
is mentioned, something else should have gone
wrong on perceived expectations of the roles of
the wife, resulting in conflict. At the back of it, still
stands that the wife was paid for, and hence
ought to conform to the expectations of the
husband within the institution of marriage. From
the findings, it seems the more the charge for
lobola, the higher the chances for that woman
being subjected to gender based violence,
perpetrated by her husband and in-laws, in an
event of misunderstandings in that marriage.
Lobola thus disadvantages women in marriage to
an extent that it worsens their already
disadvantaged position in relation to men.
CONSENT
First and foremost, all participants were informed
about what the study was about and the aims of
the study and informed consent was obtained
from all participants. They were told from the
very outset that their participation in the study
was voluntary and that they were free to answer
or not to answer any question. Further, they were
told that they were free to withdraw from the
study at any time they wished like doing so.
Participants were also assured of confidentiality
of the information that they were providing. In this
study, participant’s names have not been
mentioned in the study. Permission was sought
from participants in both the focus group
discussions and in-depth interviews to record the
conversations.
COMPETING INTERESTS
Authors have declared that no competing
interests exist.
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Enjoy your marriage. African secrets on marriage
  • D Chuunga
Chuunga D. Enjoy your marriage. African secrets on marriage. Lusaka: Adventist Press. 2012;1.
Bride-price and domestic violence in timor-leste: A comparative Study of married-in and married-out Cultures in four Districts 4. UNFPA Timer-Leste
  • N Khan
  • S Hyati
Khan N, Hyati S. Bride-price and domestic violence in timor-leste: A comparative Study of married-in and married-out Cultures in four Districts 4. UNFPA Timer-Leste; 2012.