Uganda’s Supreme Court has ruled that the practice of refunding a bride price on the dissolution of a customary marriage is unconstitutional and should be banned.
The judges said it suggested that women were in a market place, and infringed on their right to divorce.
But they rejected the argument that the bride price itself was unconstitutional.
Campaigners said that it turns a woman into the husband’s property.
Should a marriage end in Uganda, the wife had been expected to refund the bride price – often paid in livestock.
But it was argued that as women tend to have less wealth than their husbands, many became trapped in unhappy relationships.
There was a gasp in the court-room when the first justice ruled against the refunding of the bride price.
This is being seen by those behind the case as a major step in chipping away at a tradition that is detrimental to women.
But as most of the judges acknowledged many Ugandans support the idea of a bride price, which they do not see as a commercial transaction.
The women’s rights organisation Mifumi, which brought the case, welcomed the ruling, despite not getting everything it campaigned for.
“This is a momentous occasion… and this ruling will aid the fight against women and girls’ rights abuses,” spokesperson Evelyn Schiller told the BBC outside the court.