A pastor friend of our family, who is a missionary to some rural areas of Nigeria, visits our church every year to raise support for his mission fields. At the beginning of 2014, he came and he told us the many stories of the many missionary trips he undertook last year.
Pastor Richard then told of stories of teenage and pre-teen girls sold into marriage by their family members.
He showed pictures of men my father’s age ‘married’ to girls my daughter’s age. Despite the fact that I wept through half of the tales, I got the details. And right now, in the midst of my ‘writers’ block’ I am writing a story about the money marriage or as the girls are called, ‘money woman.’
What is this money marriage about?
I’ll tell the story of Rose, a money woman. When she was 13, Rose was deceived by her mother that an uncle was going to send her to school in another village. When she arrived at the ‘uncle’s’ house, she discovered she had been sold into a money marriage. Her mother took N20,000.00 (in present day exchange rate, about $100) on her head.
Rose had been sold for $100!
I’ll explain a little about what it means to be a money woman and end my ranting here because the story is still developing and I am deep in the middle of it.
- As a money woman, you are ‘married’ to the man who paid for you. Some money women are bought for lower than half of Rose’s price money.
- Money women are the life property of their buyers. Even at the man’s death, she continues to be his property and will be willed to whomever the owner desires. Think of this like a house or car. In these parts of the country where these practices are ongoing, men who buy women show them as a sign of wealth much like in the slavery days when the number of slaves owned determine the wealth status of the owner.
- A money woman’s children are the property of her owner.
- A money woman’s welfare is her responsibility. Though she has an owner, he is not responsible for her upkeep. She has to find her own food, and for her children, if any. She may engage in trading (including her body), farming, begging or any other means she finds.
- A money woman is subject to her owner’s whims and wishes and he can and do use her for whatever he desires. He can sell her; sleep with her, pimp her to others and whatever else.
- If a money woman escapes, her owner reserves the right to punish her anyway he wishes. It is believed that the ‘gods’ of the land will kill any money woman who runs away and is not found by her owner.
- When a money woman dies, the owner reserves the right to demand his money back from her seller, or get a replacement.
- Money women can be as young as 8 years old.
The movie and book titled “Money Woman” has been adapted for a viewing and reading audience and tells the story of Rose, lied to by her mother that she was being sent to an uncle in another village so she can go to school. Unknown to her, her mother has collected money from a devious cousin who has traded her into marriage. Rose arrives the uncle’s place to discover she is now in a money marriage.
The story of Rose is true. But the Money Woman movie has been modified into fiction for a viewing audience. This does not however reduce the effect of this form of menace.
The book, Money Woman, not only consists of the fictional version of Rose’s story but true tales from interviews conducted with:
- Dorathy from Ugbakoko II, sold to a man ten times older than her.
- Gift who was gambled for N5,000.00 (about $25) by her father.
- Mercy from Ugbakoko I who was sold to offset her mother’s medical bills before she was 4 years old.
- Vivian a Becheve girl snatched from school and beaten for resisting marriage.
- Dorathy from Katele who was bought, widowed and willed.
Every cent from my new book, “Shattered” on sale on amazon from February 14, 2015, will go into the campaign against the evil culture. You can support by giving just $5 to buy the book. Thank you, and God bless you, as we fight for these girls and free them from a life of bondage.
Sinmisola ‘Sinmi’ Ogúnyinka is a Nigerian author and pastor’s wife. Sinmi holds a first degree in Economics, and is a Craftsman of the Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild. In 2013, Sinmi started the Pleasant Writers’ Guild with the hope of making a tremendous impact on Christian writing in Nigeria and Africa. Sinmi self-published several books and continues to write for many blogs and magazines.