Dear Mom and Dad, every girl has the right to choose who she wants to marry, if and when she ever wants to. But my right and freedoms are being taken away from me by a patriarchal society that is turning a blind eye to the evils happening in its midst.
Just because I am a young girl does not mean that I do not have goals and dreams. Just because I am 14 does not mean I am already fertile or ready for sex. Neither does it mean that I am ready to be a bride and a mother. I am practically still a child and need my parents to help me navigate through a turbulent period of my life.
The responsibilities of being a wife, a mother, a lover and heading a family are too much to place on my fledgling mind and tender shoulders.
It is important for you to note that I was not born just to be someone’s wife or satiate their perverted sexual desires.
There is more to life than marriage. I have big dreams and wishes. I want to proceed with my education and become a lawyer, or whatever I so choose. Older and wiser I will be able to take action when people want to take advantage of young girls like me.
I do not want to be limited by a non-existent glass ceiling, and want to go as high as my imagination can take me.
I want to drive big and beautiful cars, I want to buy a beautiful house and eat any food that I like. I want to be a successful business woman and be able to look after you in your old age. That’s my wish.
How can I achieve all that if you force me to get married at an early age? I am still a young girl and still growing, how can I be someone’s bride when I myself am a toddler?
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Religion and culture cannot be the reason why I should be consigned to a statistic of child brides, whose lives are upended and consigned to basically be slaves to their husbands.
I want to grow up and experience what love feels like. I want to experience what it feels like to be head over heels in love, the breezy elegance of the ladies I see on television. Please mom and dad don’t force me to get married to someone I do not love. This is so unfair. No one deserves to be deprived of the ability to make such a key decision about their life.
I am not ready, I am still growing, I still want to go to school and be the woman of my dreams.
What is it that is forcing you to put me in such an invidious position? Is it money? Poverty? Religion? Customs? How much am I even worth?
If it is lobola that you want, don’t you think you can get far more when I am educated and are successful in life? Won’t you be happy to see me graduate, working and bringing you groceries?
Please let me continue with my education, because I do not want to be a housewife and a child bearer with no education. It means my offsprings will likely be put in the same position as me.
By marrying me off at such a young age, you have basically sentenced me to a life of marital penury and destitution.
I would be a human being without rights, knowledge and condemned to live enslaved to a shameless man happy to abuse my young body till it is used up and they move on to the next one, and collect us as a voracious hunter would collect trophies.
You have put the millstone of a society that do not put value on the life of a girl child on my neck.
I do not have the strength and knowledge to fight back.
Please mom and dad, do not choose such a future for me.
- Lavender Chabata is a journalism intern at Alpha Media Holdings. She writes here in her personal capacity, in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child.