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Money Wife: Barbaric Tradition Where Nigerian Girls Are Sold To Repay Debts

Money Wife: Barbaric Tradition Where Nigerian Girls Are Sold To Repay Debts



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The Becheve community of southern Nigeria has a tradition known as “money marriage” or “Money Wife,” in which some young girls are used as commodities in a form of modern slavery.

According to the report obtained by Mandy News, young girls between the ages of 5 and 18 are sold out to elderly males as old as 90 years in order to settle debts or as a form of payment.

Around 2018, BBC News published this horrific tradition for the first time. This year, Tunde Onakoya paid a visit to the neighborhood and posted the experience on social media.

Here’s everything Tunde Onakoya said about the visit.

Becheve Money Marriage Tradition

In a rural Cross River State community named Becheve, a barbarous custom known as “Money wife” is practiced where girls as young as 10 are bought and sold for money.

There are 17 communities that make up the Becheve tribe in the Obanliku LGA of Cross River State, and they all adhere to the Money wife tradition. It is situated just past the well-known Obudu hills and has a population of roughly 100,000.

According to a tradition known as “the money wife,” a female child’s parents will sell her as a wife to a man in the neighborhood in exchange for as little as 5,000 naira (10 dollars), food, or to settle a debt.

The way the scheme actually operates is that a “wealthy” man in the community is approached for a loan that must be repaid by giving him a daughter. When a daughter is not present, the lender waits till they have one.

Thus, the majority of debt is accumulated before the girl kid is born.

The practice ensures that once a girl becomes a money wife, she is considered dead by her family and must not return irrespective of how she is treated by her husband or his relatives.

The girl is handed to the deceased man’s closest family members as his wife after his death, because in most cases, the girls are married off to elderly men in their 60s to 90s.

The tradition requires the parents of the money wife to give another female kid a replacement in the event of her death without having produced any offspring.

The girl is given up to the lender as his bride, to be used whatever he sees fit. Since she is practically treated as a slave and forced to labor on fields that they tend for their husbands, the girl will have no rights and her opinion won’t be considered in the matter.

She is prohibited from continuing her study.

The men of Becheve value this custom as a status symbol since it elevates them in the eyes of their colleagues.

The innocent girls have their entire childhoods snatched from them and are reduced to nothing more than sex slaves as a result.

According to Tunde, all of the aforementioned are still happening in 2022.

He stated In the past, a few organizations, NGOs, and civil society groups have attempted to speak out on behalf of the girls. There was even a BBC documentary that aired in 2018 that highlighted the heinous crime against children, but unfortunately, little has changed.

“The money wife practice in Becheve is a cultural issue that is so embedded in poverty that it can only be tackled from inside the system. Attempts by outsiders to step in are thwarted by a cultural ideology,” He said.

Tunde Onakoya Experience Becheve community


I said Yes.
Deep down, I knew we couldn’t really achieve anything without the full cooperation of the community leaders.
There was deafening silence for a moment. The man sighed and said he had suspected that was our intention

To our surprise, all the village chiefs and clan heads committed to giving us all the support we needed to abolish the practice in the village.

The chiefs started narrating how their mothers were also victims of this age long tradition and how it was no longer a thing of pride but a necessity borne out of extreme poverty where the families are left with no choice but to sell their daughters.
They wanted it to stop too. 

Finally, we met the girls.

The stories were horrible. Just horrible.
Girls as young as 5-15 years old were already married or sold to men old enough to be their grandfathers.
There were a lot of 14-18 year old girls who had kids already.

You can’t make this up.


Everything I had read about was real.
I met Faith, now a 20 year old girl with 3 children. Abandoned by her husband and now left to fend for herself and children.
All she ever wanted was to go to school and become a nurse.

I met Dorathy who was now 27 years old with 6 children and a life filled with pain and extreme suffering. She had her first child at the age of 13.
She told me she had contemplated committing suicide a few times but needed to stay alive to take care of her children.


Many of the girls had tried to runaway but mentioned that there was a charm called “Olembe” that is used to kill or harm any money wife that tries to escape the marriage.

A lot of girls have lost their lives during childbirth and many currently live with obstetric and vesicovaginal fistula.
This was a true humanitarian crisis.
An entire community blinded by ignorance into sheep mentality of even condoning the abuse of girls in this manner.


the 2 weeks training camp so the girls can showcase their talents to the entire community.
We will invite all community leaders and villagers so they can come watch the girls show intellectual prowess.

7. We will make sure all the village heads commit and sign to a law that criminalizes the money wife tradition in Becheve and get the police to enforce this law.

8. We will set up a permanent training Centre (Safe space) in the community where the girls can continue to learn chess, introduce them to a world of technology and build a library where they can read new books and learn about the world beyond the confines of Becheve.

9. We will renegotiate the deals for the money wives under the age of 18 and pay back the debt their families owe to the lender.

10. We will do all of these things whilst simultaneously running a global campaign to end child marriage in Africa.

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