By Tereza Jeremiah Chuei
Lakes State Transitional Legislative Assembly had recently passed a customary law on early, forced child marriages that would now criminalize the act and also reduce high bride price to 30 cows.
The Speaker of Lakes State assembly, Rt. Hon. Agum Jacob affirmed to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that the legislators recently passed a law that regulates the range of dowries to be paid to the family of a bride.
Bride prices have been a driving force behind the chaotic bloody cattle raiding among pastoralist communities in Lakes State and across the Country.
However, with the passing of the new customary law on early and forced child marriage in Lakes State, those bad encounters are most likely to be stories of the past as the law has regulated bride price to the range between one hundred to thirty cows or less.
Any person found demanding beyond one hundred heads of cattle as dowries will have to face the brunt of the new customary legislation in the State.
Rt. Hon Agum hinted that this law will help mitigate the issues of cattle raiding and other various crimes related to cattle theft.
“The dowries payment used to range from 400 cows and even more if not and this force some people to go and raid cattle from others to make sure that they cater for this, so now it’s no more since we have the law that is going to regulate dowries,” he stated.
Agum revealed that Lakes State assembly had of recent passed a number of laws, among which are customary Laws that will tackle early child and forced marriage in its jurisdictions.
The Speaker of the State parliament told this reporter exclusively that there are punishments for any individual who will break the laws.
“We have passed laws and one of them is the law to stop Early Child Marriage and forced marriages, because earlier on, a brother or a father would just decide and force his daughter or sister off for cows and all that, but now the Law is here that is why I am encouraging everyone to stop this harmful cultures and let us embrace the good cultures only,” he disclosed.
“Paying a lot of dowries in Lakes State has always been a custom and that is why now, we had to manage this, and now the range of dowries is from thirty to one hundred (30 to 100) and even less no problem but not beyond one hundred,” he added.
The Vice President for Gender and Youth Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng De-Mabior applauded Lakes State Legislative Assembly for Passing the Law that is going to govern and regulate early Child Marriage and forced marriages in the State.
“I write to appreciate you and your Legislative Assembly for the hard earned success in passing a Law about forced marriage in Lakes State,” Madam Nyandeng wrote in a statement extended to the media.
“Worldwide, early child marriage robs girls of their childhood and threaten their life and health, so I find it very honorable of you to encourage our Country to end harmful practices that destroy the future of our young girls,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, earlier on, the Governor of Lakes State Gen. Rin Tueny Mabor echoed during a gathering that, “Education is a number one priority in Lakes State and I want to see girl child education not child forced marriage.”
He asserted that they have now passed a law that criminalizes forced and child marriages in Lakes State.
The governor also declared that his government will make sure that law codes apply equally without considering any one status in the Community, if they are to achieve their main objectives which is to allow more girls in schools and further their Education.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) Mr. Edmond Yakani had also urged parents who encourage early, forced child marriage over bride wealth to respect the law.
“My call to the parents is that, they should honor this legislation and stop seeing their daughters as property that can go to the market for money,” the activist cautioned.