Child Marriage is an abominable practice that denies innocents children their rights as human beings. I cannot even begin to fathom what would have become of me if I was married off at a tender age. Perhaps, we should blame it on poverty as the primary cause on the alarming rates of Child Marriages. However, nothing can justify this cruel Practice. I am guilty of assuming that Child Marriage was only being practiced in rural and remote areas and by specific communities that are stuck with their conservative traditions. With that kind of mindset, I turned a blind eye to children who seemed to have a ‘regular’ kind of life because they attended a school like other children and they had a home to go back to. Little did I know that these children were only children during the day and wives during the night. These are not the children who have been sold off to a man and bride price was paid, no, these children have been turned into wives by their fathers and guardians. There have been reported cases like this where a father turns his daughter into his wife and not just by sexually exploiting the child but also by expecting her to perform other wifely duties. I will share a few of the stories of young children who have been made into wives by their fathers or guardians.
13-year-old Mumbi lived in Elementaita-Nakuru County and was rescued by her teachers after months of being her father’s wife. It all began when her mother left them for her lover and moved to a different County. Her father was a casual worker and a heavy drinker. He started by sexually molesting Mumbi and Beating her if she made mistakes like not fetching enough firewood. Mumbi had three young siblings, and her father told her that they were her responsibility. Therefore, Mumbi had to get up early prepare her siblings for school, prepare breakfast and clean the house. She had to leave School early to look for food and fetch firewood and do laundry. As if that wasn’t enough, her father demanded that she sleeps with him. Consequently, Mumbi could not keep up with her studies. Her performance was getting worse, and she was becoming more miserable, and with the many responsibilities on her plate, she suddenly stopped going to school.After a few weeks, Her teachers grew concerned that Mumbi wasn’t attending School and hence, decided to reach out to her.Unfortunately, by the time they did, it was a little too late as Mumbi was already pregnant. She not only suffered physical and sexual abuse but her father forced her to take her mother’s place and become responsible for what should be their responsibility.
16 Year-old Jane was expecting her second child with her uncle who had taken her in with the promise of educating her. Jane was orphan and lived with her grandmother. After she sat for her KCPE exams, her uncle promised to take her to Secondary School, and so, he took Jane to go live with him. Immediately they got to his home, Jane’s uncle never spoke of taking her to School and when she asked he would divert the conversation. Her Uncle was a transit driver, and whenever he came back from his trips, he sexually abused Jane and threatened her not to tell anyone. He would then leave her some money before leaving. When Jane got pregnant with his first child, He began forcing her to sleep with him in the bedroom and went ahead to move Jane’s clothes to his bedroom. He would beat Jane whenever she refused to be intimate with him and would continuously threaten not to leave her any money. Moreover, he forbade her from going back to her grandmother and forced her to lie about her progress in School. Consequently, Jane became pregnant with a second child and her dreams of going to school were utterly shuttered as she now had to focus on raising her children.
From the above stories, there is a lot of violence and aspects of child marriage because these children are forced to do wifely duties like sex and heavy lifting jobs like taking care of the home and raising children. This forces them to drop out of School. In other cases, some suffer Stress disorders especially when they give birth. They are forced to stop being children and fend for their newborn. Sometimes, these kids become too withdrawn from people that they have nobody to share their experience with and others just do not know who to tell. With most of these abusers, threatening them, these children have no choice than to stay silent. There is still a lot to understand about Child marriage, but we cannot ignore that there are kids who are forced to play wife to their fathers and guardians and it’s our collective responsibility to report such cases and work towards ending child Abuse.