It doesn’t help that women have always been more at risk of violence by men who are or have been in their lives.
So the question is: who is marriage for?
The purpose of marriage
The original purposes of marriage were to have somebody to share life with, and to have children. These two basic reasons made a lot of sense when the world was more primitive. Women needed protection from their mates against other males because of the competition for scarce resources. And they got that protection because women were valuable for procreation.
Children were also valuable – they were needed to help with the chores and expand the riches of their parents.
In effect, the men provided, and the women produced more men to grow up and provide (and of course, women too to be married off for monetary gain and to secure other male lines). It all seems barbaric, but you have to understand that it was an effective system. And it worked. Farming was the major enterprise of our forefathers, and large tracts of land needed many hands to work them.
Time has passed, and we have changed as people. too. Right now, the world has moved away from physical prowess to intellectual achievement. What this means is that women don’t need a man to slay dragons for them when they could very easily do it themselves. Women are no longer the property of a man for producing children.
Of course, our men are having problems adjusting to this new reality, since we still have to enforce hashtags like #wifenotcook and being known as a 'daughter of Chimamanda' is equal to Twitter suicide these days (author and feminist Chimamanda Adichie is quite vocal about women’s issues, and feminist haters have turned her name into a curse word).
Unimaginative men have decided that calling a woman 'Twitter feminist' is just about the highest insult they can give, and pastors are running up and down trying to prove that men are 'the head'. It’s very funny, really, when it’s not annoying.
Marriage isn't needed for companionship
The defence of companionship raised by marriage has also been answered. Two people committed to each other in a relationship can give companionship. Even friends can live together and support each other through life, finding sexual satisfaction with other people if they need to. This is not a common arrangement, but it’s not unheard of.
Children don't require marriages
Hasty marriages used to be conducted when a woman falls pregnant (whether willingly or otherwise). The reason is this: illegitimate children could not inherit, or answer their father’s surnames. They were a blight on society.
Today, there is no such thing as illegitimate children anymore. And in the absence of a father’s support or acknowledgement, more often than not, the mother is quite capable of raising her child. In fact, some women prefer it – the 'industry' of baby mamas is booming in Nigeria.
On the other hand, the availability of birth control methods has made choosing when to have children so much easier and stress-free. This means that a couple can choose to stay together and have children and share their lives together without conforming to the pressure of marriage.
So when companionship and children are no longer factors, why get married? Is marriage no longer relevant? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook: Love Matters Naija and Love Matters Africa.