10 January 2019

Kenya: Minor Treks 30km to Escape Early Marriage in Kajiado

A Class Five pupil of Oltinka Primary School in Kajiado West can now breathe a sigh of relief after trekking for 30 kilometres to escape early marriage.

The 12-year-old girl was rescued by the PCEA Girls Rescue Centre, Kajiado West after she ran away from home where her mother allegedly wanted to marry her off.

According to the minor, she opted to risk the 30km journey from her home at Torosei village to the rescue centre for the love of her studies.

'SISTERS' FATE'

The brave girl said she does not want to end up like her sisters who were married off at a tender age.

"My sisters, who are all young mothers, could not escape the plight of early marriage in our family and I have vowed to break the culture," said the brilliant pupil. "I want to fight the pangs of poverty and raise money for my younger siblings to go to school."

She that her father died and the cows he left the family as their only hope for livelihood were all killed by drought last year.

"My mother had told me that she will marry me off as a way of seeking property, including cattle, that will enable her to take care of my siblings since we do not have much in our home," she said.

'SECRET MARRIAGES'

The PCEA Centre manager Reverend Charles Maina identified the scourge of early marriage as a menace in the area since many young girls have been married off under the radar.

"The trend of marrying off young girls and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kajiado West is coming back. We have rescued 11 girls from December last year," said Rev. Maina.

The reverend said many suspects involved in FGM or early marriages secure bail and are released back to the community and parents of many victims prefer to settle their cases in out of court.

"The child is left to suffer in silence since these traditions do not work in favour of the victims and they are subjected to the ordeals of early marriage and FGM in secret," said Mr Maina.

The centre has 84 girls rescued from different areas in Kajiado West Sub-County.

CUSTODIAL ORDERS

Mr Maina has requested court to grant him custodial orders to keep the minor at the rescue centre.

In bid to reduce early marriage cases, Kajiado North Deputy County Commissioner Tom Anjere has instructed all chiefs to ensure that all children who completed their primary school studies last year have joined secondary schools.

Mr Anjere warned that his office will take stern measures against parents who will be found to have absconded their duties in taking their children to secondary school.

He was speaking at Enoomatasiani Secondary School where 100 students benefitted from Sh3 million bursary fund from the National Government Affirmative Action Fund issued through the office of Kajiado County Women Representative Janet Teiya.

Kajiado County is among the counties hit hard by teenage pregnancies as close to 80 pregnancies were reported during last years' national examination period. KNA

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