PARENTS find it irresistible to send their underage daughters into marriages as this is seen as the only escape route out of poverty, says a social worker.
In an interview, Joseph Moyo, who is the founder and president of The African Woman Foundation (TAWF), said some girls from poverty ravaged families also see marriage as a shortcut route out of poverty.
“Some parents in poverty find it irresistible to marry-off their daughters as escape route from poverty…this to me, is “a throw overboard technique”: When the ship is sinking, throw off some load into the waters to lighten the ship and stop it from sinking. This is what low-income families’ do – shedding off excess baggage in form of girls for them to survive,” Moyo said.
He added that this is a way to transfer the cost of raising a girl to a man who marries her, ensuring that only fewer children remain at home in the scramble for limited resources.
“When a family is poor, the more attractive and easier way to earn some income is through the bride price. When wealthier men approach a low-income family with bride/dowry price offering for their daughters, it is hard for them to turn it down. Parents in poverty tend to jump at these financial offers and give out their daughters into marriage, regardless of their ages and unpreparedness. To some poorer parents, the chance of owning a herd of cattle paid as the bride price/dowry is the only way to move out poverty. The bride price becomes the motivating factor in giving out their underage girls into marriage,” Moyo added.
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