Is marriage a raw deal for African women?

21 Sep

Those of us who’re Zimbabwean…shhh speak softly… just for this week I’m not volunteering this information lightly.

So, those of us who follow Zimbabwean news have watched, with some fascination, the very public marital drama currently playing out in the courts and news.

Strip away the politics and conspiracy theories and underneath it lie some very important questions about marriage and what it means for African women.

Whilst the public profile of  the leading man has given this particular case prominence, we all know it’s a script that plays out every day in African societies and one that rarely causes a stir.

  • Does customary marriage have a place in contemporary African life or is it a mask for bad behaviour?
  • Why do so many women happily enter into polygamous and small house arrangements (or do they)?
  • Is there so much pressure on African women to be married that we’ll take it on any terms?
  • Does the “everyone does it” excuse make it alright to have multiple wives?
  • Does payment of lobola do more harm than good?
  • Is marriage essentially a raw deal for African women?

This is our first open thread ladies, we’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts! Let’s keep it on the issues not the politics.


3 Responses to “Is marriage a raw deal for African women?”

  1. roses September 22, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    i think therz so much pressure in africa to get married esp by a certain age as compared to western countries… im in australia and when i went back home recently i saw tht most of the girls that are younger than me are married with children and hey im only 25 and u find the 25 yr olds begging to get married. i was constantly bombarded wt the wonderful qsn “when are u getting married”…geez im 25, hve nothing tangible as yet, and still in school….these still ddnt seem lyk good enuf reasons not to get married. i will at some point, but to me there is a time for everything, which we have not all been taught in africa, esp zimbabwe. being married seems to be a sort of achievement or a goal. i was speaking to a pastor back in zim and he mentioned the importance f me getting married asap and he sed “we wouldnt want you to b 25 and not married at that point we will say you are an old lady” i just smiled and he went on to ask “how old are u btw” and i smiled and said “25” how embarrased he was. there is a lot of pressure for women to marry in zimbabwe and men to take their time. i found to be unfair. because not everyone in these so calle marriages are happy most have unfaithful men who have small houses, and the reason for small houses go as far as desperation either for money or for the simple need for a man in their life married or unmarried. i was happy to be back in australia where life doesnt revolve around marriage,kids and small houses….. having been in a relationship for close to 2 years…marriage is good, not easy, but good. people have issues…simple…its a raw deal for anyone male or female..noone wants to be alone and noone wants to be with someone who doesnt love them. but the sad reality is at tyms you end up alone or with somone who doesnt love you. at the end of the day you choose either ..or…

  2. misslinc September 22, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    I think for the young Zimbabwean girl, living in Zimbabwe it probably is. I really don’t want to say too much but the man has more advantages when it comes to “roora” she becomes his, he practically owns her, simply because he paid money. That’s how abuse begins, she would be expected to do certain things… Sleep with him, have his baby/ies, cook and clean for him and so on.

    She’d be slaving away at home while he is out having drinks with his work mates, and those female work mates too, who know’s what could happen?

    But in general, I am in support of the institution of marriage as a whole, best environment to raise children in (in my eyes) and so on. But I don’t intend on getting married until I am atleast 26. Would have finished school and hopefully would have got my dream job by then..x

    (I think it would be a little different however, if the man was not African/black)

  3. Panashe Shumba September 22, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I don’t know if any of you read 50 Shades of Grey???? Even though the man was proper f€$¥d up ( excuse my French), he knew how to love and cherish a woman. I live in UK and I tell no lie, this small house business destroyed a lot of homes to an extent where by people, particularly women, where getting fellow Zimbabweans deported. Our country is known for bad things here and polygamy is one of them. I blame society for having double standards which always favor the male gender. Our up bringing moulds us into the people that we are today ( personal opinion), and the way our parents/ guardians lived is what we tend to emmulate. If daddy was a drunk and beat mum up, chances are the boy child will be a wife beater and if mum took it, then girl child may just tolerate abuse. My point is there is nothing wrong with marriage, however, from the so called culture, ( no sure if society is the right term to use but I refer to men), society knit pick and select what justifies polygamy and oppressing women and yet when it comes to paying the bride price they cry foul and claim that tradition has been commercialized. On the other hand, pressure from the community to marry at a young age is mainly associated with the so called biological clock and even if you get married within the “appropriate” time and you fail to conceive, automatically you get the blame. Ive been married for 14 years, got hitched at 23. Anyone who learns that I don’t have kids asks if my husband has kids outside. Why don’t they ask me if I have tried outside ( not that I want to) for argument’s sake. Double standards are giving marriage a bad name. Sorry if I waffled…stay blessed ladies.

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