GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Information and culture officials say 45 percent of engaged couples in southeastern Paktia province could not marry due to high dowry costs while 20 percent others remain single their lifetime for the same reason.
Mohammad Shafa Mushfiq, director of Paktia information and culture department, told Pajhwok Afghan News that social problems could further increase in the province if the government did not intervene in determining the dowry cost.
“Many youth are deprived of marriage for life due to high dowry costs; about 45 percent of Paktia youths cannot get married on time while 20 percent stay single for lifetime due to high bride price, locally known as walwar, it is a serious problem,” he said.
Farishtah Negah, a resident of Gardez, the provincial capital, also called expensive weddings a bad culture and a reason why youths harassed girls or leave their country. She asked the government to take serious steps for ending the problem.
“You can see the youth suffer from economic and mental problems when they are engaged, we want the dowry cost to be reduced because it has created many problems in our society,” she said.
Dawa Jan, a resident of Ahmadabad district, said he was still single at the age of 36. He saidhe traveled to the UAE and Pakistan and spent many years working there, but he was not yet able to afford his marriage.
“I should have married 10 or 15 years ago. I would have been able to take better care of my children when I was young, but one can do nothing with passing age, some people get engaged but cannot wed for a long time due to high dowry,” he said.
Qari Khwajauddin Haqbayan, Paktia Ulema Council head, expressed concern over high dowry costs and said the issue had caused moral corruption to increase in the society.
He said clerics were highly responsible for reducing dowry costs in the society.
“Moral corruption has increased and the main reason is high dowry costs which deprives youth from getting married, if Ulema guide people about dowry, no youth would be deprived of marriage,” he said.
The Paktia women affairs department also said high dowry was a major problem for men in the province and the government and people had failed to deal with it.
Nasrin Oryakhel, head of Paktia women affairs department, said many girls waited for years after their engagement until their fiancés found the required money.
“Many of our youths are jobless, they do hard activities and travel to foreign countries to earn money, it shows high dowry is really a bad problem, girls also get affected in this situation, when a man engages with a woman, the man cannot provide 800,000 afghanis or a million afghanis for dowry,” she said.
The average cost of dowry or the price of a bride is 700,000 afghanis in Paktia province and the spending increases with the wedding costs.
A year back, tribal elders signed an agreement in some districts of the province to reduce the dowry cost to 200,000 afghanis but the agreement was broken later.