Jilted lovers, bachelors and the fear of marriage

By Casmir Igbokwe

Published: Saturday, 28 Jul 2007

It is not certain if Geoffrey Jones (37) could still father a child. He allegedly rejected advances from his ex-girlfriend, Amanda Monti (24), after a house party in England. The lady felt outraged. She grabbed Jones’ left testicle, pulled it off and put it in her mouth. She tried to swallow it. But the thing choked her. She spat it out just as a friend retrieved it and handed it back to Jones. Doctors couldn’t reattach the organ. At the Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Charles James jailed Monti for two-and-a-half years.

A jilted woman is a wounded lioness. She could go to any extent to deal with whoever toys with her pride. In saner moments though, she positions herself in front of a mirror and wonders why any man will pass her by and not turn his neck. Dejection becomes her lot especially when age closes in and no other man seems interested.

No doubt, almost every woman needs a man. Just as almost every man needs a woman. Even priests who have sworn to live a celibate life are not different. Some still find a way of satisfying this biological need behind closed doors. That is why the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles is currently battling to settle over 500 lawsuits brought against its priests for sexual abuse. The church has already paid some millions of dollars to some of the victims.

In the United Kingdom, sexual relationships mean different things to different people. Some prefer a relationship based on marriage. Some simply want to remain as partners. Some others say they are gay and lesbians. And so, what you hear mostly here is “my boyfriend,” “my girlfriend” or “my partner”. The word “husband or wife” is becoming old-fashioned.

An Assistant Residences Manager with Cardiff University, Mrs Sue Stevens, says most people now prefer partnership to marriage because marriage demands more commitment. And once you sign the dotted knots, getting out becomes a serious affair. But in partnership, you can easily quit if you get tired of the relationship. Rose O’Donovan, (60) is living with her third husband now. Mo has had eight husbands. To these two domestic assistants with Cardiff University, this is normal. Divorce rate in Britain is among the highest in Europe.

To some other people, marriage means a commitment to bear and rear children. This they see as a burden. They want to enjoy. But they don’t want the seeming headache that goes with that enjoyment. As such, abortion rate is high.

In January this year, for instance, a charity, Marie Stopes, performed 5,992 terminations. This is said to be the biggest number for a single month in the charity’s 32-year history. The figure represents a 13 per cent increase over the January 2006 figure of 5,304. Perhaps, this explains why some of these ladies find it difficult to conceive when they eventually need a child. Thus, they either remain childless or seek egg and embryo from donors. A report in The Independent of London in March quoted the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK as saying that about 2,000 children were born every year in the UK using donated eggs, sperm or embryos.

Products of such donations may never know their father or mother. They grow to swell the ranks of social miscreants with its attendant cost to the society. A report earlier this month by a policy group set up by the Conservative leader, David Cameron, estimates that social breakdown costs £102bn a year to the UK. Family breakdown takes up £24bn of this figure. Crime gulps £60bn while education under-achievement is £18bn. The group, headed by former Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, proposes a transformation of taxes and benefits to curb this trend and strengthen families. Part of the proposal is that married couples should be given tax allowance of £20 a week. This is to make it easier for one parent to stay at home to look after children. The report also recommends increasing couples’ allowances through working tax credits.

Cameron, as reported by the BBC, summarised the issues at stake in the following words, “If we get the family right, we can fix our broken society. Britain is almost the only country in Europe that doesn’t recognise marriage in the tax system. And the benefits system actively discourages parents from living together. We have the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe. And we have the worst social problems in Europe…It’s good that we’re more tolerant of social change. But I believe we have become far too tolerant of social failure.”

We have our own social failures in Nigeria. But, somehow, we still respect the institution of marriage. The word “partner” has not entered our lexicon. And many couples will tag along with each other no matter the odds.

Unfortunately, the economic situation in the country, among other factors, is trying to put some obstacles here and there. The recent story of a man who killed his wife for giving him triplets in Lagos typifies the trauma many families are going through. Some parents distribute their children among relatives because they don’t have the resources to train them. Others abandon their children to become armed robbers, area boys and prostitutes.

This scenario scares our eligible bachelors. We don’t have a social welfare system. And so, most people prefer to make much money first before they venture into marriage. But the jobs are simply not there. What some young men do is to rely on their verbal communication skills to take advantage of some girls. Those who cannot check their libido resort to patronizing low-cost whores at cheap brothels. Hoodlums among them engage in hide and rape incidents. Aging spinsters, on their part, never forget putting small mirrors in their handbags. They apply mascara on their eyelashes and paint their faces with all sorts of make-ups, hoping that one day Mr Right will knock on the door.

In Japan, single ladies have learnt how to cope with their situation. They now have a pillow specially made for them. It is reportedly called the Boyfriend’s Arm Pillow. And it is shaped like a man’s torso. It costs about £40 (N10, 000) to obtain one. Associated Press quoted one woman who is separated from her husband as saying the pillow made her relaxed. “I can hold the arm and feel something warm at my side,” she reportedly said.

We may not have reached the stage of using special pillows in Nigeria yet, nor the desperation of attempting to eat someone’s testicle. But we may soon have something close to that if the government does not halt the economic hardship that is creating chronic bachelors among our young men. Since we don’t have any social security system, the least the government can do is to create the enabling environment that will boost job creation.

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