Child marriage and FGM are a threat to girls’ rights, health
Girls who marry early are more likely not to go to school and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape, starting the cycle of disadvantage
Child marriages and female genital mutilation are some of the problems Kenya is grappling with to ensure girls’ rights are not violated.
A report released by Save The Children – entitled ‘Every Last Girl: Free to live, free to learn, free from harm’– has ranked countries in an index from the best to worst country in which to be a girl, based on child marriage, schooling, teen pregnancy, maternal deaths and number of women parliamentarians.
Every seven seconds globally, a girl aged below 15 years is married, the report states, indicating the scale of the threat posed by child marriage to education, health and children’s safety.
The Girl’s Opportunity Index ranks Kenya number 97, where child marriage and adolescent fertility are becoming a worrying trend.
“Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children. Girls who marry too early often can’t attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape. They fall pregnant and are exposed to STIs, including HIV,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said.
“They also bear children before their bodies are fully prepared, which can have devastating consequences on their and their babies’ health.”
Unicef also released a report entitled The Profile of Child Marriage in Africa, which showed 40 per cent of girls aged between five to 14 years spend more time on domestic chores than boys.
The report also showed that the amount of time girls spend doing house work makes them miss out on opportunities, such as going to school, as compared to boys.
Some of the violations meted out on girls in Kenya are child marriages, FGM, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Non-government organisations advocating for the rights of women and girls in Kenya want the state to implement stringent measures in ensuring girls’ rights are not violated. The NGOs want girls to have the same equal opportunities as boys.
A Pokot girl is held by a member of her community as she tries to escape a forced marriage on November 19 last year. She was unaware of the arrangements her father had made to marry her off