Florencia Horácio Mhutetwa, un-welcomed bride at 15

“‘A girl is only responsible for the home when she has children: without grandchildren there is no lobolo’, says my mother-in-law. I recognize that I have a future full of uncertainties” – Florencia Horácio Mhutetwa

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Florencia Horácio Mhutetwa, a resident at Goba Headquarters, Changalane Administrative Post, Namaacha District, Maputo Province, is 15 years old and a student of 2nd grade. Prominent smile and distinguished features make her presence go unnoticed. Oldest of five siblings, loaded with responsibilities.

Florencia never complained about why she could not make good progress in school, “I can not reconcile home responsibilities with school, sometimes because I am not encouraged to continue my studies, sometimes I do not even know how to explain. Personally, I have always had difficulties talking about myself, I do not know how to express my feelings, I often go sad and I feel confused and I choose to stay in my corner at home.”  Discriminated and charged with stigma simply because she is attending class 2 for past 15 years. As I look for more, she beams, “My classmates laugh at me, I just want to give up, but, my husband wants me to study further!

Florencia and her brothers were raised by a single mother, her father (living in Gaza) was mostly absent from their lives. “My mother learnt about my relationship two years back, when she found condoms in one of my briefcases. After much insistence, I ended up telling everything. She forced me to go live with my boyfriend and demanded lobolo”. Florencia understands her mother’s haste and the ignominy involved with early pregnancy. There is an underlying pressure of how she would be able to justify it to their father who demands more responsibility from her mother. “I confess, I was saddened by my mother’s decision. Like me, my husband is young and not much educated. He is 20, works at a pharmacist’s shop here in Goba. He doesn’t get enough money to pay for my lobolo, but we can somehow manage to live.”

Scared of being traded for money, Florencia lives a life full of uncertainty. She has moved to her in-laws but they demand grandchildren. Despite of her husband’s support towards her education, she continues to have difficulties. “I will have to choose between school and home. My mother-in-law says, “Without children, there is no lobolo”. My smile is my greatest strength to face the day-to-day sorrows and difficulties.”

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