By Ike Uchechukwu
An agrarian community, Becheve in Obanliku local government area of Cross River State has made a formal pronouncement to end one of its oldest custom and traditional practices which were detrimental to women and the girl-child.
The practice, known as “Money-Woman” in which a girl-child is betrothed to a man who spends his money on the child’s family. The family and the child is therefore bound and remain indebted.
Vanguard learned that the family is obliged and must ensure the child is married to the man. There are traditional and spiritual consequences upon any family and the girl-child that reneges.
With support of the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative in partnership with the Federal and State Ministry of Women Affairs as well as other stakeholders, the Paramount Ruler of Obanliku local government HRM Uchua Amos Uyumulam Itam & the clan head of Becheve community, HRH Sunday Ichile during a press conference on Thursday in Calabar made an official pronouncement to stop the “Money-Woman” custom and other identified harmful practices in their community.
HRM Uchua disclosed that what is being announced commonly was not achieved on a platter of gold.
His words:”We have taken the necessary traditional steps to eliminate the practice. We have also carried out advocacies and enlightenment in the community and beyond to arrive at where we are today.”
“The situation was so bad that even the child in the worm would be betrothed for an amount of money which the husband-man had spent on the family.”
HRM Uchua Item said that the harmful Practice has not only been brought to an end, but consequences have also been put in place for those who continue in the practice.
Speaking further on the fate of innocent girl children who were forced into the practice, he said if such a child was receiving good care as well as comfortable she would be allowed to stay.
“If such a child or woman is receiving good care and is comfortable being there, we will allow them to be where there are, but if they are not comfortable, the child or woman will have to be rescued.
“That is why we are asking for support to sustain what we have achieved and agreed upon. One of the implications of rescuing the child or woman where she is not comfortable is that the money spent has to be repaid. There are consequences if the money is not repaid.”
Also speaking, the branch Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria CAN in Oblanliku LGA, Rev. Akasim Joseph highlighted the role which CAN has continued to play in the area by encouraging pastors and head of churches in the area to make an advocacy statement against the Money Woman and other harmful practices in every church meeting.
The Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Development, under the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative programme, Mr. Monday Osasah in his remarks mentioned and listed the areas in which the Communities in Obanliku local government of Cross River State have agreed to end discrimination against women and the girl-child.
His words:”pronouncements made by the paramount ruler, and the clan head has changed the extant customs and traditions in Obanliku LGA to allow women in the LGA to have equal rights to inheritance of properties like the male children, irrespective of their marital status’.
“And be awarded chieftaincy titles’. ‘Be active members of the Traditional Council of Chiefs’. Others include; Melt punishment on abortion cases on both male and female perpetrators as against visiting the punishment only on the female’.
“Abolish all forms of harmful widowhood practices’. ‘Abolish female genital mutilation/cutting’. ‘Ensure every victim of rape gets justice’. ‘Abolish all forms of discrimination against the education of female children’.
Osasah urged that the actions and decision from Obanliku local government should be an example for other similar communities to learn from and amend any harmful traditional practices still being practiced within their domains.