There is an odd practice among the Becheve tribe is a group of communities in Obanliku Local Government Area in Cross River State, Nigeria whereby girls, sometimes as young as four years old, are used as collateral for loans their parents obtained from more illustrious kinsmen. Unfortunately, the innocent girls are often turned into sex slaves in addition to performing other chores for which they are not paid. Some victims of the obnoxious practice narrated their ugly experiences to JUSTINA ASISHANA who has just returned from a visit to some of the affected communities.
Beatrice Okumo belongs to the category of females members of the Becheve tribe in Cross River State referred to as ‘money wives’. As a five-year-old girl about 30 years ago, her parents had used her as collateral for a sum they borrowed from their creditor who was then about 50 years old and was much older than Beatrice’s father.
Beatrice, who calls his parents’ creditor Papa, says she is now about 35 years old now, though she looks a lot older, with fast-ageing skin and a resigned look.
Her journey into slavery had begun when her mother was delivered of a baby but her father had no money to settle the hospital bill. Her parents had considered themselves lucky that they were able to obtain a badly-needed loan from Papa with which they paid the hospital bill and also bury her mother who, unfortunately, had died during the childbirth.
Narrating the rapid, downward trajectory of her life’s story in Pidgin English, Beatrice said: “The person I was given to as ‘money wife’ was very old. I do not know the exact year I was given as payment for the debt, but I was still a child. They said I was going to take care of a baby there.
Faith Clinic Foundation rescue mission outreach
An Obnoxious and Odd Culture in Becheve tribe in Obanliku Local Government Area in Cross River State, Nigeria.
that have enslaved many girls and cause girl child marriage.
Faith Clinic Foundation is trying to pay some loan debts of this girls which they are used as a collateral, train some girls into a skill acquisition and send some girls to secondary school.