Less Ugandans interested in married life
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 02:00
With the option of cohabiting showing face, parents demanding heavy bride price and the number of independent and empowered women growing each day, young people are increasingly brushing marriage aside.
Is marriage becoming unpopular in Uganda? According to the latest Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), marriage patterns are changing, with the institution attracting less people today than it did two decades ago.
The UDHS report shows that marriage rates are falling partly because people are postponing getting hitched or those who eventually marry do so at much later dates in their lives.
The rate of marriage decline is higher among men, with a nine per cent drop registered between 2006 and 2011 alone, the report reveals. Majority of the men who are not marrying are those under the age of 25.
The report notes that up to 38 per cent of men aged between 15 and 49 are more likely to have never been married compared to 24 per cent of women in the same age group.
“Men tend to marry at much older ages than women. For instance, among men between the ages of 25 and 49, only nine per cent were married by 18,” the report reveals.
By 20, the percentage of men who were likely to be married was 25 per cent.
Even though women are more likely to marry up to four years earlier than men, with the average marriage age being 17, the report shows the percentage of married women has also been declining - from 49 per cent to 36 per cent in the same period.
But what is keeping people away from marriage?
Stephen Langa, the executive director of Family Life Network, points at several factors.
“People have trivialised and liberalised sex. It is no longer seen as a sacred thing and because they can get cheap sex, they see no reason to marry,” Langa says.
He also points at rising cases of unhappy marriages, which discourages the unmarried from getting married.
“With all these unhappy marriages around, young people may not be motivated to get married,” he says.
Dr Andrew State, a sociologist at Makerere University’s School of Social Sciences, blames it on the economic situation.
“Most people want to go into a marriage that is stable and economically sustainable. When they don’t see that, they may delay or not marry,” he says.
In Uganda, while the legal age for a woman to get married is 18, it is common to find younger women being married off.
Among women in the 20-49 age group, 15 per cent were married by 15, and another 49 per cent by 18.
Median marriage age
The median age at first marriage among women aged between 25 and 49 is 17.9 years, which according to the report, has remained stable for the past 30 years.
Generally though, the median age for first marriage continues to rise, especially among women living in urban areas.