Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Please don't marry me YET!

How would you feel if you had to get married at 14 to somebody just because your parents made a deal and "promised" you to him for a dowry of lets say 100,000 pesos? 

Miss B, one of my colleagues who has to confront this problem in the communities she works with in Lanao del Norte has a ready answer. She says that if this is the tradition of your community then perhaps you wouldn't really mind. 

Yesterday I was so intrigued that after our Local Resource Person (LRP) meeting on the Integrated Area Community Public Safety Plans (IACPSPs) of Kapatagan, Calanogas and Marogong I sat down with Miss B and grilled her some more about early marriages. (Early - as in 14 years old - early ha. Like the girl in the pic.) 

Here's Miss B's story (all in one breath): 

"It's not uncommon to have 5 girls in 3rd year high school and 3 girls in 4th year high school married to men twice, thrice their age. One 29 year old woman  has 8 kids and 1 grandchild (from her 14 year old daughter who married last year). For many teenage girls, getting married is a way out of having to cook and clean and take care of younger siblings. Besides, If somebody wants to marry you, it's a good thing: you're valued. Like a badge of honor. In contrast, for men, getting married is like a business transaction. A young "fresh" high school-aged bride will cost them a dowry of 100,000 pesos. Older, professional women cost much more. Easily a million pesos. So understandably, men prefer them young and obedient and gullible. You see, Maya, young girls don't say 'no' and men like that. Puro lang yes, yes, yes sa husband nila. That's what men like. But as soon as the girls have had 8 kids or so and lose their appeal, the husbands look for a second, younger wife. Until she too has become just a babymaking machine and loses appeal. And so the cycle goes on..."

People, I'm not exaggerating my language ha. Tried to capture Miss B's story the way she told me as best as I could. 


So am I. 

Shocked and bewildered that something like this still exists. In the Philippines! What's really mind boggling to me is how women - who've experienced the uncertainty of early marriages and  soon after the pain of abandonment -  still end up letting their young daughters be married off to complete strangers. It's tradition Miss B explains. While we from the cities feel this is unthinkable, for people who have seen their mothers and their mothers' mothers get married this way, it's no biggie. Still, the 8 cases of elopement this year in one municipality show that some young girls would rather marry their sweethearts and not someone of their parents' picking. 

Hay kalisod sa ilang kinabuhi!  (Gosh, their lives are so hard!)

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