Nigerian women march for help to wed in Zamfara

Brides at a mass wedding Kano, Nigeria - May 2012 Kano state organises mass weddings and pays all marriage-related expenses

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A demand by 8,000 Nigerian women for help to get married will be considered, the Zamfara state government has said.

A group of women marched through Gusau city to hand in their petition to the religious police in the state which is partly governed by Islamic law.

Traditionally women need to provide furniture for the marital home, but this is too expensive for some of those seeking husbands.

The women belong to an association that acts as a match-making service.

The Zamfara Widows Association represents divorcees, widows and orphaned girls looking to find suitable Muslim husbands.

'Money-demanding traditions'

"Many of us cannot afford two meals in a day because there are no men to support us," Nigeria's Premium Times quotes the women on Thursday's march as saying.

Abdullahi Muhammad Shinkafi, the commissioner of religious affairs for Zamfara state government, told the BBC he understood their plight and need for financial assistance.

"What the widows are after is to get married... and in Nigeria in particular, there are a lot of traditions that are money-demanding in the process of getting married," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"That is why they marched and are seeking for the government's attention."

He said their demands would be analysed as Zamfara did its best to help those living in poverty.

The BBC's Bashir Abdullahi says in Kano state, also in northern Nigeria, the board of the religious police, or Hisbah, often organises mass weddings for poor widows and divorcees.

The Hisbah pays for the wedding clothes, the bride price to be paid by the groom and the furniture to be provided by the bride.

But Mr Shinkafi said budgetary restraints might not lead to a speedy solution for the women.

"It is one thing to bring couples together, it is another to sustain their living," he said.

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