Ingush men wishing to marry will have to fork out considerably more cash than previously for a bride.
A council of Muslim scholars and elders on Tuesday upped the minimum bride price from 12,500 to 40,000 rubles ($400 to $1,300), the government of the North Caucasus republic reported on its web site.
Raising it was long overdue and needed to be done to increase the responsibility of the groom, the council said.The payment to a bride's father for consent to give away his daughter, known in Russian as kalym, is widespread in the North Caucasus. The custom is rooted in local tradition and differs from the Islamic marriage gift, mahr, which is given to the bride.
Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told the council that he supported the higher bride price and criticized the practice of abducting brides.
Human rights organizations have said thousands of young women are seized each year in Ingushetia and neighboring Chechnya, and locals estimate that about half of all marriages begin with abductions.
The council said grooms who force brides into marriage should be targeted with public disgrace.
Magomed Mutsolgov, who heads the Ingush rights group Mashr, said the practice was un-Islamic and should be ended. "It is a bad custom that does not honor women," he said in a telephone interview.
But he cautioned that many abductions today come with both sides' consent and that their main rationale is money. "Ninety-five percent of them just take place to make it easier to bargain the bride money," he said.
Ingush marriages usually require families to finance lavish weddings and presents, but many young people cannot afford marriage because of widespread poverty in what is Russia's poorest region.
Mutsolgov pointed out that even a modest wedding costs at least 150,000 rubles ($5,000).
Locals said that even the higher bride price would not change the fact that marriage usually burdens the bride's family. "Fifty-thousand rubles will buy you three dresses instead of one ... and it's much easier for the groom because women, girls, they need so very much," council participant Kuresh Aushev told Channel Five television.
The council in the regional capital, Magas, was organized by the Ingush Muslim spiritual board. Its more than 200 participants came from every village of the tiny mountainous republic.
The council also decided to fix the buyout price from a blood feud at 1 million rubles ($32,200) — up from previous lows of 50,000 to 200,000 rubles.
Isa-Khadzhi Khamkhoyev, Ingushetia's spiritual leader, said the higher sum might well lead to fewer killings and noted that Islamic sharia law demands a payment of 100 camels.
"For the Almighty, forgiving is acceptable," he said, the Rosbalt.ru news site reported.
Much of the recent violence in Chechnya and Ingushetia has been explained by the persistence of archaic habits like blood feuds, and rights groups have worried that local traditions are taking priority over federal law.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has said sharia law overrules federal law.