There are three types of marriage among the Becheve tribes:
1. Love Marriage: In love marriage, two consenting adults agree to be man and wife. This marriage can last for years as determined by the woman or her mother. She can leave the marriage at will and walk into another marriage. No dowry is paid in Love Marriage. The other name for it is ‘Water-proof’ marriage. Over 75% of marriages in Becheve is ‘water-proof marriage. The woman could decide to leave in the event of the husband’s death.
2. One-Time Marriage: This type of marriage requires a man to pay dowry and take home his wife. This system of marriage is a recent and is fast gaining grounds especially among Christians.
3. Money Marriage: In ‘Money marriage’, an elderly man buys a little girl for wife. The ‘buying’ could mean – the girl is used for payment of a debt owed by a relative of her mother or father, or sold outright as a means of generating money for no other reason than greed. This is the most respected and valued marriage among the tribes. In this type of marriage, the girl is “investment personified”. Providing for her old husband and her is her sole responsibility. She prostitutes to raise support for her family. If the husband dies, she will be transferred to the husband’s next of kin (as she is bought – like a piece of property). If she gets pregnant outside, the husband is happy especially if the baby turns out to be a girl – she is sold as money woman to a willing buyer- if she dies without giving birth, the parents of the girl will have to bring a replacement.
Money wives are not allowed the right to education; “her eye will open” they claim.
It is worthy of note that in every sale of these girls, their opinions are not sought or considered. A man took his three-plus year old daughter (strapped on his back) and travels on foot to another village where he sold the daughter for Ten Thousand Naira. He leaves the village as early as 4am to avoid his daughter waking up and crying after him. Imagine the kind of trauma the girl goes through…waking up to see no known face!
They are sold at tender age.
It is also good to note here, that the husband determines what he does with his wife. She is his property; nobody questions how he maltreats or if he likes, use his wife for ritual purposes.