04-12-2022 by Leni Frau
Not only in Kenya, but all over East Africa, the practice of marrying off underage children is fortunately disappearing, thanks in part to the continued actions of institutions and the increase of female ministers.
Some time ago we had reported how in Kenya the trend to abolish the ancient tribal and religious customs of "child brides" in the African country are increasingly being pursued and outlawed.
Now institutions have begun to act, not only in Lamu County where Islam is deeply entrenched and, especially in the villages on the mainland that have been least contaminated by the West and tourism, where arranged marriages between families still survive that often involve betrothed brides still in their teens and school age.
Even in the northern regions, these bad customs that discriminate against the status of women continue, according to the ancient customs of considering a girl "adult" and therefore to be married, the moment she has her first menstruation and also, with increasing poverty, in order to obtain the dowry that for a minor can mean a few heads of cattle.
Marriages of and between minors have had a major impact on the schooling of girls in Lamu, particularly in the Hindi and Mpeketoni sub-counties, but during the pandemic also violence on girls has increased exponentially, which has also led to unexpected pregnancies and attempted reparative marriages.
This issue, however, is not just about girls: in Baringo, because of traditions in the area, a 16-year-old boy whose older brothers both died, by the laws of his tribe "inherited" five wives and numerous children, with promises from village elders to bring more children into the world.
In Uganda, Gender Equality Minister Peace Mutuuzo personally intervened during an arranged marriage involving a 9-year-old girl to annul it and bring the parents to justice. Mutuuzo statedaton that this was the seventh "victim" of a marriage involving a minor girl.
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