The shocked look on my face is priceless as i am trying to digest the question that has just been posed to
“Why are you not married?”
What surprises me is not that he asked, i mean he asks rhetoric questions like that at times, i am in awe because this is the fourth time a human being has asked me this exact question in a space of a week. First it was that client from work, then that kombi driver, a random guy who stopped me in town and now Him? I am puzzled for days, i am not ready for marriage even saying the M word scares me bollocks. Why are they asking me this? I have never heard anyone ask a male my age the same question, is it because i am a girl?
These kind of questions make me angry. Like seriously, this is how it starts i guess, societal pressure, there is this unspoken consensus that girls should marry young and reproduce otherwise its too late. Do we have an expiry date?? I am so sorry i did not get the memo. My train of thought went to real cases of child marriages and the fact that i thought that it was rare in Zimbabwe due to how our education system is setup so you can imagine my surprise when i found out Zimbabwe actually tops the list with the likes of Mali, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
This primitive idea that our hierarchy of actualization is marriage, surely that cannot be
all. Family honor has to be preserved through marrying girls at a young age while they are still at a
young age before they are messed with, is the general mindset in the cases of child marriages. The teens
are having sex, there is an ongoing debate of whether to put condoms in school toilets but is marrying
them away a valid answer? For what? Family honor? Family honor for who? Also due to the inflation
of lobola men have resorted to marry them young as well. Because if one is to propose to marry me
right now i assume he would have to pay back my college tuition as well, the older and learned they are
the costlier they are.
Lobola has become a capitalistic institution overnight, these fathers see us as huge investments its no longer a decent tying of family tradition it once was. Poverty is also to blame, most girls leave school early due to chauvinistic ideas that allow men to thrive educationally while women are nurtured domestically thus are left with no alternative than to start their own families too. I often ask myself what a mother in law will be thinking watching a child no different than your own do the chores and perform conjugal duties, doesn’t the heart bleed? And also not turning a blind eye to the fact that some underage girls also planning and plotting on tying themselves to somebody worse now with this unemployment pandemic going on seeing that graduates are sitting at home doing nothing. So one tends to wonder what should happen now to stop this madness.
The laws are there but the implementation is 50 shades of grey. The stipulated legal minimum age should be followed strictly. Also it is of utmost importance to educate and empower women about how marriage is not an escape goat from poverty, kumhunga hakuna ipwa (its hard out there). Youths nowadays treat the media as the bible, anything they see on TV, hear on the radio, twitter, Facebook etc is credible so there is need to use media as a socialization agent to raise awareness against child marriages. Also we need men and traditional leaders on our side because love it or hate it we exist in patriarchy and men make the final decisions and if they are against such a ruthless practices there is a huge hope it will die down. It is not a far fetched phenomenon, it is happening right in our societies thus we need to do everything to ensure we accelerate our collective effort to end child marriage in Africa. It begins with us!