Peter Quennell once said that however gradual the course of history, there must always be the day, even an hour and minute, when some significant action is performed for the first or last time.
The long time planned snatch of Anita’s (not real name) life dreams and aspirations had their own time. And unfortunately the time was when she had just finished her exams anxiously waiting to join university.
How would it feel if you are betrayed by your brother into forced marriage? What part of you would it rip most? Would you ever forgive your brother or the man who plans all this in the name of love? Here is a story of one of the culprits of forced marriage in Ngoma:
“I was in S.6 vacation when my brother sold me to a friend for forced marriage. My brother always had friends who always came around to visit. I hear he was approached by my husband who told him he wanted to marry me.
They then planned how to carry out their shameful act. My husband planned it so well that he bought off my school not to release my S.6 results, bought off my S.4 pass lip and then most of my big brothers were bribed.
One evening, my brother called me to meet him somewhere in the name of giving me money to use that week but it was a bit later than usual.
I found a black car with men dressed up in army clothes in the place we had agreed. They threatened to take me to prison for walking late in the night at 10pm if I don’t stay silent. I was dragged to the car immediately and driven off to a far place that seemed strange and new to my eyes”.
You must be questioning yourself why the girl didn’t scream. I also took time to ask her why she couldn’t yell for help. She answers with a shaky voice while tears dropped on her smooth cheeks.
“My mouth was covered; my hands and legs were tied, to prevent me from alerting anyone for help. The next thing I heard was that we were in Masindi in a remote house with no neighbours close by.
‘You’re now married’, a male voice arrogantly said with a lot of contempt in the tone. Before I could let the bad news sink in, the guy was all over me claiming I was his. I stopped crying because it had become something else, more than a bad nightmare.
I thought about my education because university studies in accountancy were my long life dream. Before all this could be sieved in my small and naïve mind, the man forced himself on me.
There was no chance to fight for my pride and dignity because there were men around the bed to help their friend in case of any struggle”.
“After two weeks, my family members traced us and they stormed our house. I hid and my husband was taken to prison and when they asked me if I had loved my husband, I just answered yes”.
Why did she do that? “It’s because my family was capable of anything, either to kill him there and then or take him to prison for life. Anyway nothing to lose, I was already a woman and a wife, around one and half weeks pregnant”.
“We then went to his family members in Ngoma. After two weeks, their family visited my family in the name of reporting and introducing themselves. All that they paid for was more than 12million but all that wouldn’t stop my ever flowing tears. We then got legally married in a period of one month”.
Some telenovelas or children’s books for princes and princesses would end, and they happily lived together there after.
But she continues to say that life would never be the same again. She doesn’t want to get close to people from the city centre or those at university. ‘Guterura’ or forced marriage or forced elopement as someone would want to call it, is common in our communities.
It happens under our nose but we can’t understand it or know how grave it is on our young girls.
Anita says that her tears will always flow, unless the tear glands run dry. Much as she has now lost her youthful figure, lives in the village and can no longer go back to school, her heart sobs because the brother gave her away just for money.
Betrayal has no polite word, it hurts but if done by a loved one; the pain is indescribable.