Nine couples legalised their marriages at the Idenau council on Tuesday 19 May during celebrations marking the International Day of the Family.
The marriages were sponsored by the Women's Education and Empowerment Programme (WEEP) in collaboration with the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC.
According to the coordinator of WEEP, Pastor Mary Kingue, Idenau was earmarked for sponsorship this year due to its high rate of cohabitation which stood at 75 percent. The pastor revealed that after constant visits to Idenau by WEEP members, it was discovered that most of the women who cohabit are maltreated and only 40 percent couples in the area had legalised their marriages.
She went further to disclose that WEEP had always emphasised on women's rights and gender equality and while at work only few men understood their mission as they had been accused several times of separating homes, a claim she vehemently refuted and later a few men had lauded her effort.
During the ceremony she reiterated that women should not suffer under pressure of tradition, thus giving them a chance of legalising their marriages and owning marriage certificates will reassure them and make them more dignifying. She ended by calling on the nine couples to be of good morals like they have always been and not to change because they now have marriage certificates.
After the declaration of marriage by the First Deputy Mayor, Kelley Esike, two of the nine couples settled for polygamy while a couple, Genevieve Munchem and Daniel Bencham had opposing wishes, the husband pronouncing polygamy and separate property, the wife choosing monogamy and joint property. It raised a lot of arguments in the hall so much so that the couple was taken out by the WEEP coordinator for proper counseling which lasted not less than the crowd expected. However, they finally came to a consensus of polygamy and separate property.
Given the occasion, the Deputy Mayor, Kelley Esike, took time off to spell out what marriage is. He said marriage is a distinct ceremony which creates a status in the society. He called on wives to do what the Bible prescribes; submit to their husbands and be respectful, loving, develop gentle and quiet attitudes like exemplary mothers.
For men, he prescribed gentleness, faithfulness, tolerance and be ready to always make provision for the family. He also advised them to honour and always show concern for their wives.
The couples's representative, Motome Orgen Ekete, lauded the effort of the sponsors for creating an avenue for their marriages, pleading that they extend their initiative to other areas.
WEEP is interested in the education of women. The programme began in 2005 in Fako Fivision and has extended to Meme this year. It is a project of the PCC and has as partner Bread for the World.
Closing the ceremony, the DO of Idenau, Emmanuel Ndengwe, called on all who know the value of marriage legalisation to enlighten the new couples and always encourage them because it's like a school in which one never stops learning or claims knowledge of everything.
He also appreciated the PCC and WEEP for their intelligent gesture, depicting that administration and the church can work perfectly well