A 12-year old girl that was rescued by authorities has revealed how she was forcefully married off to two different men within the spate of one month by her father.
The girl who is simply identified as Naisula was in Standard six at Enkare-Nairowua Primary School in Kenya when she was first married off to a 51-year-old. The marriage only lasted for two weeks.
She was to be the second wife. “Our father had forcefully married off my two elder sisters and I was the only one remaining. When schools were closed he planned to marry me off,” she said.
The man had promised to give four cows for dowry, but since the local administration was monitoring the girl’s father’s movement, the handover was shelved to a later date. The Maasai community gives four cows to signify that marriage has taken place.
“I escaped and since I could not go back to my father’s home for fear of being reprimanded, I eloped with a 35-year-old man, who was married,” she said.
“I want to continue with my studies and be a dependable person in future. I appeal to the government to help me return to school),” she pleaded.
“We were tipped off by the public that there was a girl that had been married off twice. We trailed her for three days and we managed to rescue her. We are working with well-wishers to get her a safe haven while hunting for the culprits,” said Area Chief Rimoine Maiyone.
The chief said police were looking for the father of the girl and the two “husbands” who have since gone into hiding.
The administrator said the girl’s father was yet to receive dowry from the men for fear of being arrested, since payment of the bride price is a big ceremony in the Maasai culture.
Naisula’s plight is a classic example of how closure of schools to curb spread of Covid-19 has impacted negatively on the girl child in pastoral communities.
“Girls in Maasai land are facing a bleak future in the wake of Covid-19. If concerted efforts are not made to save them we shall have no girl reporting back to school by next year due to FGM, early marriage and teenage pregnancies,” said Kaputa.
Area Children’s Director Pilot Khaemba said for the last three months, about 30 girls had been rescued from early marriages and taken to rescue centres, while culprits are facing charges in court.