Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Zimbabwe Virgins Forced into Marriage to 'Appease' Evil Spirits

Is this civilized?
By Nyarai Kachere
MUTARE, Zimbabwe, Sep 29 (IPS) - Three years after being seized from their families and forced to marry and have sex with adult men in a Shona ritual to appease an avenging spirit, five teenagers are facing a dismal reality.
The girls from Honde Valley in Manicaland had to drop out of school, become under-age wives and mothers and live an impoverished life as vegetable vendors to contribute to their new families' household income.
In 1999, Felicitas Nyakama, Nesta Maromo, Juliet Muranganwa, Precious Maboreke and Perseverance Ndarangwa, who were then between the ages of seven and 15, were handed over by their parents to the family of Gibson Kupemba as payment for the man's murder. The girls' relatives killed Kupemba to prepare muti, traditional medicine, which is sometimes made from body parts.
According to traditional belief, a murderer's relatives need to appease a dead person's spirit with virgin girls, sometimes as young as six years old. The virgin has to live with the murdered person's family, no matter her age. When she reaches puberty, she is made the wife of one of the male members of her new family.
Kupemba's grandson Gibson (junior) said his father appeared to him in his sleep, demanding a virgin girl as compensation from each family involved in his murder. He insists the girls were not forced to offer themselves, but it was their personal choice to rescue their families from an evil spirit.
"They came here to confess on their own volition. Each girl must be accompanied by 22 heads of cattle," said 28-year-old Kupemba junior, who married Precious Maboreke in 1999, when she was 15 years old.

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