Cross River community ends age-long harmful practices against women, girl-child
BY: Nsa Gill
Becheve community in Obanliku local government area of Cross River State has made a formal pronouncement to eliminate one of its age-long custom and traditional practices which was harmful to women and the girl-child. Few others have also been agreed upon.
The age-long practice commonly referred to and called “Money-Woman”; ‘by it, 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. 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’.
The Paramount Ruler of Obanliku local government HRM Uchua Amos Uyumulam Item and the clan head of Becheve community, HRH Sunday Ichile on Thursday in Calabar made a formal pronouncement to end the 'Money-Woman' custom and other identified harmful practices in their community.
The pronouncement was made in a Press Conference aided by the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative in partnership with the Federal and State Ministry of Women Affairs as well as other stakeholders, working on “Male Engagement Program for GBV/SRHR/HP Reduction”; a Spotlight Initiative.
The Paramount Ruler while speaking noted that what is being announced commonly ending the age-long practice of ‘money-woman’ did not come as easy as it seems and pronounced.
“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 noted 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.
Asked what the fate of the innocent girl children who were forced into it are, he said, “if such 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 at the press conference to formally announce the elimination of the “Money-Woman” custom and other harmful practices against the girl-child and women, the member of Obanliku Traditional council who was appointed by the council to lead the advocacy and enlightenment campaigns across communities in Obanliku against harmful practices, Chief Ikanshul Joseph of Bayawieh West Clan noted that apart from the “Money Woman” custom, there were other practices which were harmful and inimical to women in the community.
He cited the case of women who witness the monthly menstruation being regarded customarily has dirty. So within the days, the woman has her menstruation, she is dirty and cannot seat where others are. Some don’t go to church, school, and other public places of importance when they are in their menstrual period. 'It was that bad', he emphasized.
The branch Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria CAN in Oblanliku LGA, Rev. Akasim Joseph also spoke and 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 agree 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’. ‘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