By Jessie Ayamoh – EAC Correspondent – Cameroun
Collective marriage in Cameroon for the past months is gaining increasing importance especially in Muslim families who before depended on traditional and religious unions.
The minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, Susan Bomback has succeeded in less than six months to unite close to one thousand couples in the South, Southwest, North, Northwest and Centre provinces of Cameroon who recently are experiencing the importance of legal marriage and encouraging their neighbors to abandon cohabitation. A Muslim faithful who has been a concubine for 11years affirms that such a union will enable her to have legitimate children. It took close a dozen years for her and her husband to decide on having a legitimate union because their limited finances did not permit them to invest in such a union which demanded an expensive celebration.
Taking the decision to legally marry after so many years of courtship was triggered by the powerful sensitization programs on the importance of a legal union. The women were made to understand that traditional and religious marriage is good but legitimate union is beneficial and protects women and children.
Usually many cohabitors enter these unions believing their experience will serve as a successful testing ground for marriage leading to a harmonious and happy marital relationship. Cohabiting relationships are weaker more violent, less equalitarian and more likely to lead to divorce. Civil marriage improves marital stability. Cohabitation doesn’t provide superior training for marriage.
Aoudou, just signed for a polygamous union which he says is a great achievement to him because his tradition permits him to have more than one wife. His first wife gladly accepted his decision. His legal union will permit him to enjoy certain advantages he was deprived off from his job side.
While encouraging families to support and accompany the newly weds in the marital journey, instead of spurring up division, the Minister remarked that more than 80% of complaints received by social workers at the ministry is filed in by concubines who justify illegal union by saying that their families ate kola nuts and both of them were presented to their in-laws.
The consequences reflected in abandoned children without birth certificates and women victimized when their supposed husbands die. Legal union such as civil marriage strengthens the rights of spouses and re-assures the future of children.