Causes and Consequences of Early Marriage among Selale Oromo Women: The Case Study of Hidabu Abote and Kuyu Woredas, North Shewa Zone, Oromia National Regional State

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Addis Ababa University


Early marriage is a deep rooted and tradition based practice in major parts of Ethiopia. Women are victims of early marriage as holding family responsibilities before they get matured physically and psychologically represses their participation in social and economic development of activities of the nation. The main objective of this study is to investigate the causes and consequences of early marriage among Selale Oromo women residing in the North Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional National State. A survey was conducted in two randomly selected woredas; namely Hidabu Abote and Kuyu to collect qualitative and quantitative information on causes and consequences of early marriage. Statistical data were collected by employing structured questionnaires to measure the magnitude of the early marriage practices, while in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were held to gather detailed information that help to investigate the root causes and consequences of early marriage. Findings of the study reveal that early marriage is widely practiced in the study communities due to economic motives derived from parents and close relatives, societal influences and cultural impacts. The economic motives behind early marriage includes parent’s desire to strengthen economic ties with in-laws, to get betrothal gifts from the bride groom’s family, to improve the economic conditions/vulnerability of the family and parent’s desire to secure their children’s future before they pass away. Societal influence, on the other hand, deals with the urge of parents to establish or strengthen kin relationship, to avoid loss of virginity and clear of stigma of ‘haaftuu’. Cultural impacts that promote conformity of the age old tradition, fear of traditional belief of the Oromo known as ‘Caacuu and Kallacha’ and elder’s pervasiveness are also identified as one of the factors promoting early marriage. More importantly, marital disruption, problems related with sexuality, reproductive health and child delivery, perpetuation of poverty among victims of early marriage and lack of educational opportunity are also documented as consequences of early marriage. The study concludes that problems associated with early marriage are pertinent issue of girls/women in the study area, as the practice that is supported by social norms and customs goes against their right. To overcome such a problem, findings of the study call for strong campaign to enhance the legal literacy of women, community leaders and gender activists; putting pressure on legal enforcing bodies to fight against such harmful traditional practices, and formulating net working with different government, non-government and civil societies that work on gender issues



Gender Studies