(Last Updated on : 11/04/2014)
Marriage in Aka tribe
takes place according to their traditional ritual and customs. Girls have no voice in their marriage. Cross-cousin marriage, child marriage, levirate, marriage by elopement, bride-price, polygamy are permissible. Cross-cousin marriage is preferred. There is a popular custom in the Aka society where they generally prefer to marry one whom they might have known since childhood. Only the marriages by elopement come under purview of the traditional village council. If there is any dispute between the two families of the bride and the groom the village council is approached and the Melley with settles the dispute.
Bride price and marriage gifts are frequent in the Aka society. A daughter marriage means a loss of a helping hand in the family. In order to compensate this loss, bride price is paid to the parents of the girl. The payment is made in kind for instance in the form of cattle, cloth and utensils. In cases where the grooms are unable to pay the bride price they serve in the bride's house and the service is deemed as the bride price.
Extra-marital relation of any kind is strictly looked down upon. If a person within the community is found guilty, then he is summoned to Melley and has to pay fine of more than one thousand rupees or a cow to the village council. However no fine is imposed on the women. She can be beaten up by her husband publicly. The fine varies depending on whether he is from the same tribe or outside it.
Divorce is uncommon in Aka community. However there is no religious restriction for seeking divorce among the people. A woman of this tribe has every legal and social right to seek divorce as is in the case of males. Various grounds for seeking divorce are as follows:
(a) if the husband is incapable,
(b) if the husband is attached physically and mentally to another girl,
(c) if the husband is handicapped,
(d) if the women is mal treated by husband,
(e) if the husband is addicted to intoxicating drinks, and
(f) if the husband forms new marital relations without encouragement of his wife.
The husbands on the other hand can seek divorce if the spouse suffer from chronic diseases or unable to borne children or found to be involved in extra marital affairs. The right over the children of dissolved marriage is settled on the floor of traditional village council. Generally the sons go with the father while the daughters go with the mother.
Widow Marriage is the age-old custom of the Aka tribe. A widow is inherited by the brother of her deceased husband. This practice is called the senior levirate. It is normal for a widow to start living with her deceased husband's younger brother as his virtual wife. If she desires to stay in the same family without remarriage, the other members do not oppose.