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Ijara Declaration: Religious leaders relax marriage cost, but women are up in arms

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GARISSA—Religious leaders in Ijara town, Garissa Constituency have set new conditions for marriage proposals and the cost of the big day.

In a letter doing round on social media, the clerics listed twelve conditions and on the 13th, those who contravene, the agreed, will be cursed. 

The directive comes at a time when there’s raging debate on how much marriage proposal and the ceremony should cost. 

Somali women have been complaining of “shortage in real men” but their male counterparts maintain marriage has increasingly became expensive for most of them to afford.

On social media, the Ijara declaration has been viewed at differently. Men welcomed the move, saying they will make the journey to  the town while women denounced it, saying it “lowered their value.”

Faiza Mohamed from Ijara town posted on Facebook: “🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 wale maboys mnapenda vya bure (Boys really love free things.”

A lot of people believe that although the clerics who authored the declaration have no way of enforcing it, it’s a conversation starter towards achieving solution to the stand-off on the cost of marriage.

 In 2017, Beled Hawa town in Somalia banned wedding receptions from taking place in hotels and introduced a limit of three goats to be slaughtered for the festivities. 

“Islamic teachings indicated that getting married should be cheap,” town commissioner Mohamud Hayd Osman told the BBC.

The town’s authorities are worried that prohibitively high costs of getting married will discourage people from staying and lead to increased migration. 

Mr Osman added: “Young women were refusing to get married unless a fortune was spent on wedding gold and household furnishings.”

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