In the midst of the several fights against female s*xual slavery, there are still some places in Africa and even Nigeria where girls are seen as products to be sold for money.
One place in Nigeria where this is still being practiced is The Becheve Tribe in Obanliku Local Government Area, Cross River. These people see their daughters as money-making machines. In fact, the reason they pay special attention to their girls is that they believe that they would make enough money for them as they grow.
HOW THEY USE GIRLS TO MAKE MONEY
Once a girl clocks the age of 10, she is considered to be ripe for marriage and she immediately starts undergoing marital training such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for the home.
The belief of the Becheve people is that their daughters can be used to settle off debts and with this, some of them use their daughters to play bets. Some even use them to settle hospital bills and the worse of it is that some others happily sell them off for a ridiculous amount of N3, 500
The women of Becheve Tribe are saddled with the sole responsibility of bringing money to the home and giving birth to children.
As a matter of fact, a woman is allowed to bring another man home and can have s*x with him in her family house. The only clause here is that they cannot have s*x on the matrimonial bed. Also, the man has to be her customer who is giving her money for the job.
In other scenarios, a man takes a loan and when he is unable to pay the loan, his daughter is given to the lender until he is able to refund his money. While the girl is with the lender, he can do whatever he likes with her as she is his full property. The man can even maker her bear children for him and she continues to stay with him till he gets back his money.
In a situation whereby the girl is sold before the father is able to pay her fees, her father doesn’t share the proceeds that is gotten from the transaction.
When the father finally gets the money, the girl would be returned to him.
THE LIFE OF A GIRL IN BECHEVE
When a girl gets married in Becheve, she is prevented from going to school and she is only allowed to eat leftover meals. This is because the women here are regarded and treated like the property of the man who has married them.
Also, the number of wives a man has is a great determinant of his social status. This is because it is believed that only a rich man can afford as many women as he wants.
WORDS FROM THE VICTIM GIRLS IN BECHEVE
Faith Ikpe, one of the girls who has had to marry for money revealed that she was just in primary four when her parents sweet-talked her into getting married to a man old enough to be her father.
Poor Faith really wanted to go to school and she had to sell bananas to buy books but when her husband found out, he beat her severely
Faith revealed her pain saying;
“I wrongly thought money woman was a good practice. I was sold when I was in primary four. My mother and my dad deceived me that if I follow the man he will send me to school. First-term and second term went and they didn’t allow me to start school. I then sold bananas to raise money to buy a few books so I can go to school. However, my husband didn’t allow me. Every time I tried to go to school he will beat me. I will pass through the window and run to school. Every time I return from school, he will beat me.”
“I want to beg the government to put an end to this money woman practice. Those of us who have experienced it, we have discovered that it is all about suffering. I don’t want other young children to experience this. Government should please help put a stop to this practice. It is very bad for a young girl to be sold into marriage to an old man and the girl used as a slave on cocoa farm.”
Another victim, Dorothy Akpang who was frustrated to the point that she prayed for death revealed how she spent many days in the bush working as a laborer on her husband’s farm.
“That time, I just look forward to dying. I slept in the bush while working on the farm. I used palm fronds as my mattress. All these suffering, I don’t want any of my children to suffer it. I want an end to this. I want that all my children must go to school. I pray that this money woman practice in Becheve stops. The government should fight this practice for us.”
Although there is a Nigerian and cross river law that stands against this practice, it is still adhered to. Not giving up, some missionaries who are in that part of the country are also taking active steps in ensuring that this practise is put to an end.
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