Abuse under the cloak of culture

2019-03-13 06:02

FORCING young women into marriage under the cloak of culture denies women their rights to freedom, participation, dignity and self-expression. This emerged at the fourth National Consultative Forum of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, held in Pretoria on February 25.

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Zweli Mkhize said: “As we celebrate our cultures and traditions, we also condemn certain practices, such as the abuse of women and children under the cloak of culture.

“Practices which deny women their rights to freedom, economic freedom and participation, dignity and self-expression have no place in our democracy.

“We should thus unite in condemning child marriages and practices such as ukuthwala which are practiced in the name of culture.

“All cultures should protect children, women and the vulnerable.”

Ukuthwala is a form of abduction that involves kidnapping a girl or young woman with the intention of compelling the girl’s family to endorse marriage negotiations.

The practice of arranging marriage by parents while children are still at school does exist in some parts of KZN, including Msinga outside Greytown. Although, according to the police, there have been no recent cases related to ukuthwala, however, local leaders in uMvoti condemned a culture that becomes a formal oppression of women and young girls.

Ward 11 councillor from Muden, Bhojabhoja Dlamini, said culture must not be used to justify the violation of children’s rights.

“The practice of ukuthwala used to be rife in Muden, whereby young girls were forced to marry older men. Lately, this practice has declined gradually. But the problem our community of Muden is facing nowadays is arranged marriages.

“Most of the time parents, especially women, arrange marriages between girls aged 15 to 18 and older men.

“In most cases, parents will talk to a man who has already finished matric to marry a child doing Grade 10 or Grade 11. The child gets pregnant and drops out from school. Such practices must be condemned in our society.

“We want our children to finish school and go to universities.

“Most of these so called arranged marriages do not last,” Dlamini said.

The councillor urged the youth not to fall victim to such practices.

“Other children drop out from school after getting pregnant because they know they will get the child support grant.

“I would like to warn women from Muden to refrain from forcing young girls to marry older men,” he said.

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