A 16-year old girl who scored 325 marks in KCPE exams from Mandera County has been rescued from a planned early marriage by the area chiefs.
Led by Mandera County Principal Chief Issak Adawa, also known as Chief Boraw, the administrators have warned the family of dire consequences if the victim drops out of school and action will be taken against any man who tries to marry the schoolgirl.
“The victim in this case is a 16-year-old girl who scored 325 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam and her parents wanted her married instead of continuing with her education,” said Mr Adawa.
Chief Boraw said his office received a report that there were arrangements to marry off a school girl and a follow-up confirmed the report.
According to the victim’s father, the girl was only being booked for marriage which will take place after four years.
“We were told that the girl was being booked for marriage which will happen after four years but we are not convinced by that explanation from the victims’ father,” said Chief Boraw.
He revealed that the victim will be taken to school by government agencies.
Among the Somalis, a man is allowed to propose to a young girl for future marriage.
“We are working hard as chiefs to deal with such cultural practices in our society. We need to let our children go through the education system uninterrupted,” he said.
While releasing the 2020 KCSE results, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha said Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Homabay were the leading counties with high gender disparity in favor of the male.
Cultural practices, high poverty levels and peer pressure are cited as factors leading to early marriages in Mandera County.
Gender norms such girls being expected to be virgins before marriage and women bearing many children for their husbands are cited as major drivers of early marriages in the county.
Also, stigma surrounding marrying past a certain age for women in the local community influences decisions to marry early.
Education stakeholders in Mandera have also oncurred that child marriages and defilement are the major factors hindering the education of girls in the region.