It is 2020, but the Becheve community of Obanliku Local Government Area, Cross River State, is still stuck in 1820 traditions.
One of the most barbaric of which is forced girl-child marriage, also know as “Money Marriage” or Okeh-Ingolis.
This is an old traditional practice synonymous with the Becheve tribes in Obanliku LGA of Cross River State, South South Nigeria where an elderly man buys a little girl for a wife.
Obanliku Local Government Area is situated in Northern Cross River State, approximately six hours drive from Calabar the State Capital. This traditional practice is presently ongoing where young girls are being sold out for a kind of marriage known as “The Money Marriage” and the victim, ‘Money Woman’.
The practice which is as old as tradition itself is carried out without the consent of the girl who in most cases, is sold out to clear debts owed by a family relation even before her birth.
In these communities, Money Woman practice is a status thing and a show of pride as there is virtually no family in Becheve that is not without a ‘Money Woman’.
The victims are most times used to settle debts owed by their relatives and when her husband dies, his next-of-kin marries her and if the girl-wife dies without giving birth to children, her parents are obligated to bring a replacement in accordance with customary demands.
In cases where a money woman gets pregnant by another man, the husband holds claims of the children and if the woman eventually gives birth to a baby girl, she is in turn sold out to a willing buyer without her consent.
‘Money Wives’ are not allowed the right to education and in every sale, the girl’s opinion is not sought. She is the bread winner. Victims of this marriage are sold for as low as Ten Thousand Naira, few goats and pigs, tubers of yam, depending on the man’s bargain power. The buyer determines what he does with the ‘money woman’ even if he uses her for ritual purposes.
Once a girl is sold out for Money Marriage, she is considered dead by her own immediate family and warned never to return back irrespective of how she is being treated by her husband.
It is saddening that such a barbaric practice is still in place even in today’s world.