(People's Daily Online) Da’anliu village, in Hubei Province, recently introduced a measure stating that whomever offered a bride price valued at 20,000 yuan or more, would face accusations of human trafficking.
The regulation has since been reduced to “suggestion” status and is not a law as the village’s ruling committee does not have legislative power. However, discussions emerged online and people considered the move as a first step toward eradicating this age-old custom.
Most of the villagers in Da’anliu make a living growing pears. The average annual income is roughly 20,000 yuan ($3,200). Surprisingly, local bride prices have exceeded 200,000 yuan, experiencing upward movement at 20,000 yuan each year.
In less developed areas like Guizhou Province, bride price rates are roughly 88,000 yuan ($13,000) plus three pieces of gold jewelry (earrings, necklace and a ring). In Shaanxi Province, expectations start at 100,000 yuan and three pieces of gold jewelry.
Zhao Qingjie, an ethics professor at China University of Political Science and Law said, “People are anxious about their future and that anxiety is transferred to the acquirement of promises before marriage, such as the ‘bride price’ or real estate.”
As Zhao explained, this phenomenon is a result of “over-materialism” and the extreme disparity that exists today between rich and poor.
Patriarchal traditions in rural parts of the country continue to play a role as it still a common belief that women are dependent on men.
China has a long way to go before society can rid itself of the bride price custom, Zhang said. For now, he suggests that people find a partner they truly love and have no interest in commercializing marriage.