The Burundian government has ordered all unmarried couples in the country to wed before the end of the year or face punishment which includes possible jail time.
The little East African country is trying to create a more moral society by doing so.
President Pierre Nkurunziza had in May 2017 even passed a controversial law to help push the agenda. That same month, he launched a campaign “to moralize society” where he urged Burundians to show their love for each other and their country by getting married.
Since that time, the Burundian government has been pressuring unwed couples across the country to tie the knot.
The government argues that having a legal marriage protects women and their children, especially when it comes to issues of inheritance.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, the country’s Minister for Human Rights, Martin Nivyabandi, warned that couples who will not have married by the end of 2017 will be charged in court.
“After December punishment will be carried out towards those families who will not be legally married…If they don’t respect the law some of them will be taken to court and jailed,” said Nivyabandi.
Opposition to the law has mainly come from the Muslim community in the country. They say that the law infringes on their religious beliefs, customs, and practices which allow men to marry as many as four wives.
“It will be unfair if the law forces the man to register only one wife, what happens to the other wives?” asked a concerned member of the Muslim community.
Non-muslims who are against the new law say they cannot afford to marry as it is an expensive affair that entails paying a bribe price and organizing a wedding ceremony.