Kenyan father forces teenage daughter into marriage

by Maruf Adedeji
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Kenyan authorities have rescued a 12-year girl after she was forcefully married to two men in a space of one month.

The Kenyan teenage girl was forced into marriage with a 51-year old man by her father in Narok County west of the country capital, Nairobi city.

It is a crime in Kenya to marry a person below age 18.

With a prompt tip off about the girl, a children’s rights campaigner on Wednesday July 15, 2020, was able to come to her rescue.

A member of the Narok County Peace Association known as Joshua Kaputah said the girl’s father married her off to the elderly man.

“Poverty and closure of schools due to the COVID-19 contributed to the rise in cases of child marriages,” Mr Kaputah told a news agency.

He added that some families are hungry and are tempted by the prospect of receiving two camels as a dowry.

A local news report said it is common with Maasai community in Narok County of Kenya to marry off underaged girls.

Mr Kaputah explained further that many fathers see girls in their households as a means to wealth, and are willing to give them off in marriage in exchange for cattle.

Underaged marriage is a common traditional practice that the government has continued to stop, but it is still being practised by many as a result of poor implementation of the laws.

Local reports said the first groom gave four cows as a dowry but the girl refused to enter into the purported marriage.

Male cousins beat up the girl for protesting against getting married.

The girl explained that she escaped and since it was difficult for her to return to her father’s house out of fear of being held back, she eloped with a 35-year-old married man.

The girl’s father has, however, found her and taken her back to the 51-year old man, according to Mr Kaputah.

Mr Kaputah followed up with the case and visited the man with government officials.

On arrival at the man’s residence, the man had run away in escape.

The Kenyan police are searching for the father and the two men in question, who have all gone into hiding.

The court of law may likely pronounce them guilty of the accusation and will consequently be liable to up to five years in prison with or without a fine of up to 1 million Kenyan shillings ($10,000).

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