Chinese-Aussie love marriage stuck over 'dowry' demand

A proposed love marriage between an Australian man and his Chinese fiancee is stuck over a hefty dowry demanded by the girl's parents as 'bride price', a custom in several countries.

Beijing: A proposed love marriage between an Australian man and his Chinese fiancee is stuck over a hefty dowry demanded by the girl's parents as 'bride price', a custom in several countries.

Su Mo, a young Chinese lady, met her fiance Dyke, an Australian, in Xi'an, located in China's central-northwest region. The couple, after dating for three years, planned to get married in Australia during New Year.

However, as the big day approaches, the two families have found themselves in dispute over dowry, state-run People's Daily reported.

Su's parents have asked for USD 16,000 as a 'bride price'.

Bride price, also known as bride token, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom.

However, Su said that her fiance had not worked for long and has few savings and explained the matter to her parents.

"To my astonishment, my father wants my parents-in-law to pay the rest of the dowry" she said.

Su's Australian would-be mother-in-law refused to consider the proposal saying "No! No way!," the newspaper reported.

Caught in a dilemma over western parents' independent living and Chinese joint family system, Su said she has no idea how to deal with the cultural gap between a Chinese family and an Australian on education and customs.

Even in China, a dowry claim of USD 16,000 or more is an exception rather than a norm.

In most cases, the boy must have a residential flat of his own and girl's parents move in with the girl after the marriage.

Su knows Dyke's parents mean well but at the same time she does not want to embarrass her fiance.

She knows that other Chinese relatives have often told her parents that western families are well-off and so they should ask for a lot of money.

"My parents thought that greater the amount, the more face our family would have around the neighbours," Su said.

She is sure that her parents intended to save the money for her rather than spending it.

Although in many western countries, there is no longer any tradition of dowries, Su's relatives took the view that Dyke's family should respect Chinese culture if they were going to have a Chinese daughter-in-law.

Song Qiang, a Chinese lawyer, says that the dowry is only a civil custom with no legal status.

According to Chinese law, marriage upon arbitrary decision by any third party, mercenary marriage and any other acts of interference in the freedom of marriage are prohibited.

The extraction of money or gifts in connection with marriage is also prohibited.  

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