Dowry-related Abuse : 'the Elephant in the Room'
- Issue 16
OCTOBER UPDATE 2016
A Dinka (Southern Sudanese ethnic group) riddle poses that “If you were crossing a river with your cow and wife and there is danger of drowning and you can save only one of them, which one would you save? The answer is “that you save the cow because with it you can marry another woman.”
The practice of dowry (bride price) though seldom discussed, flourishes across certain cultures in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia. Dowry related abuse toward women and children is a problem that has existed for some time. Recently, law makers and practitioners have begun tackling this social problem impacting families and communities.
A Sudanese faith leader recently explained to me the logic that informs dowry “a daughter has been brought up by her family and is their source of income. The only property parents have is their daughter. You give away your daughter for dowry and then you are financially set,” he said.
Another spoke of a direct connection between dowry and domestic abuse. “In paying for dowry,” he said, “a wife is the husbands property and can beat her for not being good at chores, for answering back, asking for financial support.” He added, “wives under the dowry custom become a slave to the husband’s family, so that even if the husband dies, the wife cannot remarry without the consent of the husband’s family. "
In a visit to a South East Melbourne faith community earlier in the year, I was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn that 3 women had been murdered as a result of dowry-related violence over the last 5 years.
Some men’s willingness to break the silence about dowry-related abuse against women and girls is significant as it embodies the fundamental recognition that it is a problem overwhelmingly for which men are responsible.
Men have a moral obligation to change attitudes and behaviours that are negative towards women and girls. Specifically, that females are property and, replace these with norms of respect and equality.
While some men are part of the problem, all men are part of the solution.
Reminder of events coming up
- October 10 - Ridley College - Active Bystander Workshop 2. 1.45 - 2.45 pm. Registrations closed
- October 23 - St Peter's East Melbourne - Spotlight - a film worth discussing. Details & Registration
- October 30 - St James & St Peter Anglican Church Kilsyth/Montrose. Homily. Details & Registration
- Nov 23 & 24 - Workshops Swan Hill & Eaglehawk, sponsored by Mothers' Union Bendigo. Details and registration
- Dec 4 - Holding the light - an ecumenical service to remember the victims and survivors of domestic violence in Australia. Details and registration
Violence prevention resources
If you would like to show case the violence prevention work of your faith community or submit any success (or partial success) that you've had as an active bystander upload it here
Think Prevent is edited by Jill Graham & Em Timmins and information is issued by Kempster Consultants. The opinions, events, links, and reports within the e-Newsletter are not necessarily endorsed or supported by the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, its program partners Brotherhood of St Laurence or Anglicare Victoria.
For further information contact: Dr Ree Boddé (M) 0450039288. Email: email@example.com