Eradicate harmful traditional practices
Despite the decline of harmful traditional practices in our country, some communities still have not stopped these practices.
To mention, harmful traditional practices are mostly those practices that are culture-based and committed against people, usually girls and women. They include child forced marriage, virginity tests, breast ironing, female genital mutilation (FGM), and female infanticide. These practices breach and violate our girls' rights.
In Kenya, the common harmful practices are female genital mutilation and child forced marriages. However, cases of female genital mutilation have reduced, meaning that the main obstacle we are left with is that of forced child marriage.
Child forced marriage is often fueled by poverty and economic hardship.
It is worth noting that our country has been a victim of food insecurity. The presence of food insecurity has been pushing a significant number deep into poverty due to skyrocketing of staple foods. Due to this fact, some communities in such a situation prefer to force their young girls into marriage in exchange for small dowries such as cows and goats.
On further note, others force their girls into marriage to ensure that they have reduced the mouths they feed as a sign of reducing the food burden in their family. It is high time for the parents of such communities to note that such a practice is a crime for their children. They should be aware that forced child marriage breaches girls' rights to education and health.
Predominantly, such practice results in school dropout, which blocks the future of affected girls.
Consequently, after marriage, these girls are prone to be affected negatively by myriads of consequences. Some of these devastating consequences include acquiring HIV/AIDS, early pregnancies, and dangerous complications when giving birth. They are also likely to experience domestic violence since they are always forced to be married by men who are even three times their years.
Communities' practices have a critical role in urgently stopping it. They should stop defending such practices by saying that it's culturally based.
The government is also obliged to enact stiffer laws and policies for anyone caught practicing such harmful practices. Finally, girls should be empowered with the necessary skills and education. Empowering them will bring long-term economic benefits to their parents.
Rodgers Otiso & Janet Mutua, Migori