Commission for Gender Equality ‘concerned’ over ukuthwala practice

In two separate incidents in the Eastern Cape this week, teenage girls were rescued after police found they were allegedly forced to marry older men.

Picture: iStock.

CAPE TOWN - The Commission for Gender Equality on Thursday said it was extremely concerning that some people saw nothing wrong forced marriages.

In two separate incidents in the Eastern Cape this week, teenage girls were rescued after police found they were allegedly forced to marry older men.

The commission's Jabu Baloyi said the cultural practice of ukuthwala was being misinterpreted.

In the past, it allowed adults to elope when their families opposed their relationships.

Baloyi said this practice occurred mainly in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng and was being abused.

He added poverty was a factor as some parents force their daughters to marry older men because they couldn't afford to care for them.

"The commission has completed a study, which proves child marriages are more prevalent over the festive season."