What you need to know:
- Narok Court Senior Resident Magistrate Phyllis Shinyada, last week, sentenced a 50-year-old man to life in prison for defiling a girl for three years.
- This ruling serves a lesson and the communities should be sensitised about the legal consequences of child marriage.
- Families, especially in the regions of North Eastern, Rift Valley and Coast often trade off their underage daughters for livestock, food or money.
Last Wednesday, Narok Court Senior Resident Magistrate Phyllis Shinyada, sentenced a 50-year-old man to life in prison for defiling a girl for three years. He had married her in 2019 at the age of nine as the fourth wife.
Saigulu Ololosereka was charged with two counts of defilement and marrying a minor. The former crime earned him a lifetime stay behind bars and three years for the latter offence.
Defiling a child aged 11 years or below carries a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment under Section 8(2) of the Sexual Offences Act (2006).
Girls, especially in the regions of North Eastern, Rift Valley and Coast are often defiled through child marriage.
These areas are primarily arid and semi-arid zones, and are worst hit by drought.
Families here trade off their underage daughters for livestock, food or money. Worst still is that the communities here have normalised child marriage.
This ruling serves a lesson and the communities should be sensitised about the legal consequences of child marriage.
Based on the most recent data from Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014), 23 per cent of girls in Kenya are married before they hit the adult age of 18 years.
But reducing child marriage is possible.
South Asia has the highest rates of child marriage in the world according to United Nations Children's Fund.
Here, almost half (45 per cent) of all women aged 20-24 years are reported to have been married before the age of 18.
And almost one in five girls are married before the age of 15.
But a study by the agency in 2018, found an impressive decline over 22 years (1990–2012).
In Pakistan, for instance, in 2012, Balochistan had between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent households with a married child but over the more than two decades child marriage rates decreased the most in the province, falling by between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent.
The study attributes this decline to increased empowerment of the households.
The researchers found that “households whose members have higher average levels of education benefit significantly more from the economic growth than less educated Households.”
Therefore, the researchers say that this “suggests that less educated households would benefit less from the local economic progress and are likely to respond more slowly to changing the way child marriage is practised.”
In conclusion “Regions where child marriage is less prevalent, increased economic activity is associated with a decrease in the phenomenon. This is especially visible in Pakistan, a country with comparatively lower rates of child marriage.”