From Mail & Guardian
It is 12.30pm and an older woman emerges from her tiny mud house. A younger woman is making some porridge outside.
These two women are husband and wife: they are traditionally married and they have children.
This practice is called nyumba ntobhu in western Tanzania. It is a traditional form of same-sex marriage. The two women share a bed as a couple, they live together, bear children in their union; they do everything a married couple would, except have sex.
In the Mara region, nyumba ntobhu allows older women to marry younger women in order to have children of their own and assist with the household chores. Women say nyumba ntobhu also helps them overcome problems of gender-based domestic violence.
Mtongori Chacha (56), who is married to a woman, Gati Buraya (30), says the traditional practice arose as a result of male violence against women.
It is also an alternative family structure for older women who do not have sons to inherit their property and whose daughters have moved away to their husbands’ villages. It offers a form of security for elderly women so they do not live on their own.
Chacha and Buraya have three children. Chacha says she decided to marry Buraya because she was unable to have children in her previous marriage to a man, who she says physically abused and tortured her.
To bear children, women who are married under nyumba ntobhu usually hire a man and pay him when the younger woman falls pregnant.
Written by Florence Majani/Read more at Mail & Guardian