In one community in Nigeria, some men have taken to Facebook to advertise teenage girls for marriage to men old enough to be their grandfathers.
And it’s often their own illiterate fathers who are behind the ads.
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The Becheve community, a large tribe of 17 villages in Obanliku, has a common practice of exchanging young girls for food or livestock or cash, or to settle debts, in what is referred to as a “money marriage.”
Yet the girls largely have no consent in their own marriages. In one case, a 16-year-old named Monica and her 14-year-old sister were “sold” into marriage after their father posted their photographs on his Facebook page.
The Daily Beast reports:
Their respective husbands got in touch with their father after seeing the Facebook page where he posted photos of his six daughters to draw the attention of his tribesmen. The men of the clan have found the new technology helps to extend and expand their old, exploitative traditions.
“My father knew nothing about Facebook until my elder brother bought him a smartphone and convinced him to join Facebook and post our photographs whenever he likes,” Monica told The Daily Beast. “He’ll buy new clothes and force me and my sisters to put them on before taking photographs of us.”
Usually in the Becheve community, parents of the money brides take the girls to men who can afford to pay for their daughters whenever they think they are fit for marriage, or wait for interested men to request their daughter’s hand in marriage.
But in recent months, families who are so desperate to give their children away for money turn to Facebook so their kinsmen can check them out.
“It is young people who convince old men to look for wives on Facebook,” added Monica, who ran away from her husband less than a year after she got married.
“The man I married said his oldest son showed him my photo on Facebook and directed him to my father.”
After marriage, these child brides essentially become servants, barred from attending school. Some girls face domestic violence as well.
“Once he married me, he turned me into his slave and punching bag,” said Monica. “He said he paid so much to marry me and so I had to labor hard by working for hours everyday in the farm to prove that I’m a grateful wife.”
When contacted by the Daily Beast, spokespeople for Facebook said they were unfamiliar with what is happening in the Becheve community.