Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal - Twenty-two girls in the Bergville district in KwaZulu-Natal were abducted and forced into marriage in a practise known as ukuthwala according to a report on Saturday.
The Weekend Witness reported that this was revealed in an investigation conducted by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The CGE on Friday hosted a debate on ukuthwala in Durban and presented its findings, including how various government departments responded to ukuthwala.
The CGE's Nomusa Kunene said the probe identified certain areas as ukuthwala hotspots.
She had heard of one case where a 13-year-old was abducted and tied to a tree to prevent her escaping from her prospective 'husband'.
Kunene said some religious groups saw the practise as a measure against the spread of HIV, because it promoted early marriage.
Some parents were complicit as they viewed their girl children as “cash cows” because they wanted money or cattle in exchange for their daughters' forced marriages.
CGE researcher Taryn Powys said: “We should not confuse the traditional practice of ukuthwala with the criminal activities being perpetrated by young men and the parents of young girls who force them to marry...
“This is a crime, pure and simple”. - Sapa