Premature Marriages in ‘SukumaLand” are disastrous, Should be discouraged
Snap-Shots at Life
With Angel Navuri
I chanced to visit what is loosely known as Sukumaland (Mwanza/Shinganga regions recently sponsored by Women Dignity, and was acutely saddened by the discovery that negative cultural believes hold sway.
One of these is bride price, whereby some parents treat their daughters as commodities for sale to marital sitors, thereby blocking their prospects for a reasonable level of education.
In addition to that, girls are married off at a relatively tender age and their health is thus affected, on account of premature motherhood, In Bariadi, I saw under 18 girls who had been forced into marriage (put crudely and accurately, sold)by in exchange for dowry in form of cattle.
I was reliable told that a wife obliged to give to a given number of children according to the number of cows her parents received as dowry. this is a case of gross inhumanity, compounded by the fact that, in the first place, a girl is not given a chance to choose a man she fancies, but has to contend with someone imposed on her. another choice she isn’t afforded the opportunity to make is to put off any talk and propositions on marriage until she advances herself reasonable in education and vocational fields.
The Bariadi district hospital clinical officer, James Mranga, told me that the problem of forced marriages for girls aged below 18 was high, and that the victims had to give in because disobeying parents was taboo.
Regina Maluga, a mother who had brought her child to the hospital for treatment, said her father was given a bride of 10 cows for which she had to give birth to five children, which are two cows per child.
Maluga noted that if she didn’t give birth to five children, for the 10 cows paid top her parents as bride price, it would bring shame to her family, she lamented” the practice affects us because even if we need to have fewer children it is impossible as we have to pay back by bearing children to a specified chidren –cattle ration” The clinical officer said men needed family planning education more than women because they seemed to be more obstacle towards the implementation of family planning programme.he noted that even if the women wanted to start family planning they couldn’t because men needed more children.
I think more education is needed for the community and village leaders because this is denying the girls the right to education, its high time negative cultural beliefs were fought.
In chit-chats with a couple of women ,it transpired that if they opted for family planning, they have to use depo injection for family planning instead of pills because their husbands could find out.
For example the clinical Officer said that from January to May this year, only 30 women had undergone intra-uterine contraceptive device(IUCD),which was different in Karagwe district,Kagera Region ,where in one month only about 700 women decided to go for birth control. He also said they had been conducting public awareness programes on the importance of having a manageable number of children, but the fertility rate had remained high.
The parents have understood that early marriages have disadvantages like responsibility has to be shouldered at a very young age. One has to take on household responsibilities, child rearing responsibity, etc.
There is no adult to guide or help out missing out on the fun of teenage life and being young, the drudgeries of married life can overwhelm you. they deprive you and of your youth, often ,the young couple may not be able to pursuer higher education as they have to take on the responsibilities of family budget, and work opportunities of family budget, and work opportunities are limited for the youngsters.
Since their education levels are low they cannot get highly paid jobs, bringing up children care may be limited and parental guidance is also no there. they may not be able to provide the appropriate care for their children.
And Marrying early may seem very romantic and convenient, but it has its problems, couples need to get to know each other better and this takes time rushing into a marriage, which may not last long, does not appear the right thing to do ,in some countries ,where child marriage is prevalent ,efforts are on by respective governments to dissuade the practice .it is high time the Sukuma community changed for the better.
Angel Navuri is a journalist, The Guardian