A 16-year-old girl from Oloililai sub-county in Kajiado has been rescued from a forced early marriage to a 45-year-old man.
Kajiado County Commissioner Felix Watakila said the minor, who was a student at Meto Mixed Secondary School, dropped out of school in Form 3 for lack of school fees and was forcefully married off by her parents last year.
Her 45-year-old husband managed to escape the police dragnet and is being sought to answer to charges of marrying an under-age girl.
Watakila revealed that the girl had earlier managed to escape twice and sought refuge at the assistant chief’s office but the chief returned her back to her husband’s home.
The County Commissioner said the assistant chief was under investigation adding that stern administrative action would be taken against him for aiding and abetting early marriages in his jurisdiction.
“It is unfortunate that the assistant chief who is supposed to be in the forefront in advocating for the rights of the girl child is the one who took the minor back to the husband who forcefully married her. We are going to take stern administrative action against the chief,” Watakila said.
Watakila warned all national government administration officers against breaking the law by abetting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
He called on members of the public to be vigilant in reporting to such incidences adding that every child has a right to education.
The minor, who is already a mother of an infant, will be placed in a children’s home and taken back to school to complete her studies.
According to Eve Merin, the Director Enkakenya Sidai’, a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) that rescues young girls from FGM and early marriages, many girls in Kajiado County especially in remote areas are at a high risk of dropping out of school and getting married off during this period of drought.
Merin noted that the prolonged drought has left many families vulnerable with households having lost thousands of livestock which is their only source of income.
“Cases of early marriages are on the rise due to the prolonged drought. Families are unable to pay school fees as they have lost livestock, their only source of livelihood. Many girls are now being married off in exchange for cows,” said Merin.
She called on the community to shun retrogressive cultural practices that continue to infringe on the rights of the girl child.
By Rop Janet