Her Voice does not Count
It is very wrong to force young girls to be married. However, it is even more despicably wrong of our cultures to force young girls to marry strangers. It is the norm, most south Sudanese parents do not only force their young daughters to marry men they do not consent to be with, but they force them to marry men whom they, the parents themselves knew nothing about. Forcing girls to accept married unions they do not consent to has been a norm in our cultures. Although the notion of forcing young girls to marry men without their consent or about how old a girl must for that matter is slightly different from one South Sudanese culture to the next. In one form or the other nonetheless, forcing girls to marry anybody that is man has been widely accepted as a norm.
Though there are wrongs in every aspect of ‘forcing’, we will focus on the argument why a girl in a forced marriage does not have a voice in this small article in just two scenarios. Obvious, right?
“Marriage is a lifelong decision”, my brother told me. And he was right. It is not a decision that one makes in the morning and when changes his mind, he makes another decision in the evening. At least, not in these cultures. It is not like choosing a way to walk to a shopping mall using one way and changing one’s mind when returning to use a different way to go back to the same destiny, home. To marry someone or in this case, to be married needs months if not years to ponder at what it will visually look like once a decision is made. It is a one-time decision, for once it is made, there are only a few reasons under which individuals can be allowed to withdraw their claimed commitment from such a made decision without a lifelong impact. There are not neared privileges for females, however. When she is married, that is her life and any changes made about the union, does more damage than good when consider withdrawing. There is no turn back. There are only insults and shames flowering at the dissolution of a marriage. How could such an unrepairable, irreversible decision be made while the grounds under which it should arise from are mere feel of the wind? How does a family say to a stranger, hey, here take her and make her your wife? No one would do that except when the one being given is considerably nothing. It is no secrete. Girls are properties whose values are set based on needs. And they are sold, solely based on individual interpretations. Though many reasons may crowd his in turn-giveaway, a father gives his daughter away for one of the followings.
Either the desire is on whether, a girl will then live in a rather better place, (which comes with its own concerns) or her family will, a father will give his daughter to a stranger if that individual belong to higher social class. Since marriage has not been mingled with social hierarchy in South Sudanese cultures, men of all classes marry from all directions. In fact, it is more common for a highly classed individual to marry a girl from a lower class or a girl who has been brought up far from a city. This is because the further down the class, the more control a husband can have over a marriage. Or when she has been raised up with less exposure to the current changes, there is a presumption that she will be more faithful compared to the ones in the city. The danger however is when two people are asked to live together based on a designed circumstance that is to be lived off the presence of the ones who brought it into existence; it is complicated to know how to redirect and live a life that would suit both individuals. For a girl, although she may not express her loathing, she does not have a say as far as how she would like to be treated. The absence of her inevitable circumstances becomes only her weak hopes of whether he may have been raised to know how to treat someone else fair or not. In other words, a girl whose marriage approval exclusively comes from parents, has no voice in making rooms for herself. it is not about her being happy, however. It is about her pleasing both parties. She lives between the needs of her family and the wants of her husband knowing her refusal of either way only endangers the value of her existence. Her removal from the family heavily involved payment in return; therefore, the family to whom she marries into does not qualify for a prior screening. Parents come short of ‘the good’ she is married as an outcome and blindingly bypass any red flags that may be obvious.
Adapting relationship among families is another influencing factor when it comes to marriage. This is one of the strong factors under which most marriages happen today just like they were centuries ago. There are many ways two families can come to be on good terms with one another. They could exchange goods, other than a female human, favor each other out or create strategies to build lasting relations among people. However, presumably, these walls of relational start-ups often dry in less than needed if ever were. But a marriage, which usually starts with a bit of respect, does bring a sense of coherence to the desired connection. In fact, a father can give an individual whom he prefers his daughter in need to form a relationship with that individual’s family. What is not considered however is, a family may have a few individuals within; however, this does not mean everyone is good as the other. In other terms, the individual’s differences within a family should qualify for scrutiny simply because the two lives that being called into the union will eventually come out of the family to form one of their own. The desired good nonetheless, is the relationship which will be formed as a result. This by far violates the right of the one to be given which is ‘the need to know’ whom she is being given to. But she is there as an abject used to create specific desired kind of a connection. She is the enabler who nonetheless lives off the center of the desired relationship. Because the focus is on the needed connection, how she is treated is none of her parents’ business. And it is not because she is not married to the individual, she is married to the family. For if she were to be married to an individual, he would have been a point of knowing, right? No. Not that either. But remember, girls are not that of importance. But instead of fully knowing where she is going and who she is going to be with, parents’ biggest concern is whether she lacks anything for even though she may be given free of charge, she must have all the needed qualities that make a good wife. Once she is given, the families form a respectful relationship that never seems to need her involvement anyhow. She lives there as the object out of which a connection was build. But she is never the focus or the center. She is a woman. Her concerns do not matter.
It all boils down to one thing. It is about who owns who. The girls’ needs and wants, or preferences cannot be of any concern to the person who often claims the ownership of them. Although the giving of anything in exchange seems normal, it is cause of all behaviors both the need to sell and the want to mistreat. This part of it can be in depth. But we will leave it here for next time.