Once in 2014, i met a young girl of about 8years in a small town in the south west region of Cameroon.Out of curiousity, i sought to find out why she had braided her hair because in this part of the country, students and pupils don't plait their hair. Then she surprised me by letting me know she doesn't go to school because she is a "money woman".

i was then interested to know what is the meaning of money woman. Took her to a quiet corner and then she further explained to me that as it is, she is married.

i then engaged her to a conversation:

Me: married ?

Money woman: yes ma, i am.

Me: How old are you?

Money woman: 8years old.

Me: Have you finished primary six

Money woman: No need ma. I am already leaving with my husband.

My embarrassment knew no bounds as I started wondering how a child would not go to school but rather be given out for marriage.In a bit to know more my embarrassment was further compounded when  i finally found out that it is a tradition and that some of the wives are married as foetuses.

As a matter of fact, there are two types of money women. But I was very interested in this one because of the injustices melted on innocent children.

A man may be in need of some money. He borrows from a friend or a neighbour and the obvious security for the loan will be an unborn foetus of a sister or his unborn daughter. Once the deal is seal, the woman (wife) has no question to ask. On the contrary, as soon as the foetus is born, the supposed (creditor)husband starts bringing gifts of various kind. Things like firewood, laundry soap, palm oil, bush meat etc. All this as part of the dowry for the infant.

In some marriages as soon as the girl is 4years old, the senior wife of the suppose husband is handed the responsibility of taking  care and being  in charge of  the upbringing of the infant.She sleeps with the most senior wife in her hurt while they wait for her first menstration to transfer her to the husband's room.

In other cases, the parents will be as compassionate enough to send the girl to her husband about the age of 8years old.

These young children are living in an uncompromising situation. I couldn't bear the injustices as i continued to dig into the "Money Woman" thing.

In my quest for more answers, I was fortunate to have met with a few of them. One of them explained her situation with tears.She was(as of 2014) 30years old with seven(07)kids and no husband because her supposed husband died after she bore 02 children for him. She was further inherited by the old man's brother who intends makes life miserable for her, ceased her piece of farmland, then abandonned her. In a bit to take care of her children she found herself moving from one man to another thereby bearing more children.

Eventhough she keeps on bearing children, no family relative is there to assist her whether financially or otherwise and none of the men who bore these other children have rights to them. All seven kids belong to the late husband as tradition stipulates. But as soon the girl children she has will come of age, they are automatically "Money Women". Then the husbands family will start giving them out just like she was.

I decry such injustice melted on infants, girl child in general and the woman as a whole in this century of ours.Even some traditional authorities i met simply told me it is tradition and cannot be changed.As I write, I was so touched that I took one of these girls who is peacefully attending school.

Arrah Bertha Nkongho

This post was submitted in response to Share Your Story On Any Topic.

7Encouragement

Hello Betty, Thank you for sharing this story. These are old cultural ways which many of us cannot tolerate. You are good to take this one girl to help her get an education. Since you are aware of these practices,damaging young girls, I think you may find some new ways to educate the community abut this very unfair practice. I wish you the best in your efforts.

Hello dear,

My findings proved that it is longstanding and because of the inaccessibility of this locality, the women had not many choices. However, an access road has been completed which I hope might help us to be able to meet,educate and most especially empower them.

Thanks

Dear Betty,

I started shedding tears as I read your story. I have heard of this horrifying issue of 'Money Woman' in the Akwaya area of Cameroon. I keep asking myself why such tradition keeps thriving in modern times. OMG! Why would children be married of as early as when they are foetuses? Something needs to be done. Thank you so much for taking a girl, I wish we can all go there to encourage girl child education. It is so sad.

Betty, you have a heart of Gold. Keep doing good!

With love

Nakinti

Nakinti B. Nofuru

2013 VOF

Founder/CEO Rescue Women - Cameroon (REWOCAM)

nakintin@yahoo.com or rescuewomen@yahoo.com

 

Dear Betty,

This is horrible. I know of similar situations in Mbam and Innoubou where girls are used to settle debts. 

We must unite to put this action and traditions to an end.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Hello again Betty, The news of the new accesss road is GOOD NEWS! See, as long as you dwell on this issue, you will find some new ways to address it. Keep dreaming of how you could get girls transported on this road to schools or community groups where they can discuss these problems. Also try to include men and boys in any education. Best of luck!