BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Kenya when girls are forced into marriage without their consent, their chances for learning and planning for their future is limited. They go through violence from their spouses and they are exposed to HIV/AIDS, early unwanted sexual contact, sexually transmitted infections as well as unplanned and unintended pregnancies at their tender age. Their lives turn in to sorrow and they live in denial and depression.
There are various causes associated with early and forced marriage in Kenya this includes socioeconomic factors which cause young girls to be married off by their parents. Gender discrimination causes preference whereby boys are given chances to school and girls to be married, another significant cause is traditional beliefs and customs. Marriage Bill in Kenya outlaws under 18years of age marriages and such persons should not be engaged. Most African countries including Kenya are a signatory of African children charter that prevents children and forced marriages.
Education is a key way that could help in bringing a solution to this situation and in the development of each child. Community and family mobilization aimed to change behavior and attitude towards forced marriage through media and open campaigns is also a key solution. Provision of free and open access to health care services for the youth and adolescent together with economic assistance can also lessen this burden to the young girls and their families. Policies and law establishment plans can also be put in place to end childhood forced marriages.
.OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to determine the philosophical solutions to the rampant forced marriages in Kenya.
1. To assess the major causes of early forced marriages in Kenya.
2. To determine the effects of forced marriages to the girls.
3. To evaluate key strategies which can be applied to overcome forced marriages in Kenya.
1. What are the major causes of early forced marriage in Kenya?
2. What are the effects of the forced marriages to the girls?
3. What strategies can be applied aiming at overcoming the phenomenon of rampant forced marriages in Kenya?
JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The study was projected to provide information of paramount importance to a variety of stakeholders in the health and education sectors. They include but are not limited to the public and private policymakers, both at the National and county government on the factors causing the rampant forced marriages in Kenya. Early childhood marriages have been shown to be common in some communities and it’s related to lack of schooling because of increased dropout rates and low-quality life for this poor girls. The gained information from this study should allow in the formulation of intervention measures and policies to solve the issue. The study also prompts more studies to be carried out by scholars due to gaps found and more literature on early forced marriages will be available.
This chapter explores studies that have been done on the rampant forced marriages, either in Kenya, Africa and globally especially in the rural areas. A literature review is a reproducible, systematic and explicit means for identifying evaluating and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work produced by researchers, scholars, and practitioners (Burns ; Grove, 2010). The purpose is to provide an overview by viewing literature relevant to the topic. Identify areas of study, agreement, and disagreements. It also helps define your problem, justify the research question and analyze the strength and weakness of previous researchers. It helps in highlighting the gaps in research. Sources of literature review for this study is mainly from search engines such as Google Scholar, hinari, journals, articles, newspapers, and books. The review was done guided by the study objectives.
Major causes of early forced marriages
Key significant identified causes include poverty and economic needs, ignorance, cultural and social norms, wars and conflicts in the society. Ignorance comes about when parents perceive it better and safer to marry off their daughters and avoid shame of conception out of wedlock. It also makes societies believe that marriage at tender age is a way of protection from violence and sexual attacks (UNPA, 2013).
Social and cultural norms still remain top in persisting early forced marriages. Some beliefs and traditions require daughters to be driven away under laid down agreements with other families. The girls have no choice other than to comply. Pressure exists within the community and girls are simply married of because their parents don’t want them to be left out by their age mates.
Discrimination between boys and girls also is a key contributor; this is in issues pertaining to education whereby boys are allowed to school and girls to marry.
Nigeria went through various incidences of young girls’ abduction that were married and held captives while others were marketed for marriage. This was during a period of instability following conflicts and war. This wars and conflicts’ also lead to increased poverty and subsequently girls married off or choosing to get married at early age (UNPA, 2013)
According to Oliech Okun, (2016) girls are married off by their fathers in Kisumu County because of poverty. Daughters are viewed as assets and are married off in exchange for wealth in the form of dowry. Girls are the chief source of income for debts payment out of their parents’ ignorance.
According to Njanja Annie, (2017) the beading tradition practiced in Turkana is a temporary way of getting young girls in to a relationship with old men. The adult male buys the beads with the consent from the girls’ family as an engagement sign. This occurs as early as 2-4 years of age when the girls are booked for marriage since this marks the first bride price. With subsequent years cattle are brought as the girl continue to grow. This is the chief source of wealth acquisition in this region for poor families. The girls are forever marked and prized asset which is celebrated from birth. Full dowry for these girls is paid by the age of 12-15 years. Since poverty is severe in this region girls are even forced to look for their own food, desperation leads them to look for men who can provide for them regardless of age differences.
Socioeconomic and cultural differences vary from region to region which also promote child marriages. The living and growing area determines at what age those from the region will marry. In India half of the girls are married before 18 years and highest rates are recorded only in five states. Similarly the same pattern was observed in Ethiopia where half of the early marriages were concentrated in only four regions in the north (ICRW).
Effects of early forced marriages
Childhood marriage exposes girls to a variety of risks; amongst this is health wise due to early sex exposure and child bearing. Hiv/Aids, sexually transmitted infections and obstetric fistula are also health related. Domestic violence is also noted, sexual assault and social isolation. Education is halted with any meaningful job which would later be associated with it; this in turn causes long lasting poverty (ICRW).
Since girls are equated to assets and income sources their parent see taking them to school as a means of lowering their value. This occurs against the girls wish although they have nothing to do to rescue themselves (Njanja, A., 2017). Childhood marriages cost different continents large sums of money, this is in relation to reproduction issues, increase in number of people and wellbeing of children compared to their parents income as young mothers. This is an important consideration for the drive to end child marriage according to Girls Not Brides organization research from World Bank. Death and proneness to infections and poor health is also high for children delivered by underage mothers. This is common below attainment of fifth birthday accounting for 3.5% average and failure to thrive at 6.3%, this also costs the government billions to deal with it and it can only cease with halting child marriages.
The savagery in childhood marriage occur not only .from girlhood deprivation other than problems related to health, but also from the close partner brutality when age difference between the spouses is huge. This is a mark of sudden and brutal sexual relationships (WHO, 2013).
Strategies which can be applied aiming at overcoming forced marriages
According to UNPA (2013) childhood marriages undermine the freedom and rights, wellbeing and condition of young girls. It is against the law to marry of children.
The nyumba kumi drive makes it easy in the Turkana region to closely monitor and provide information when plans for marrying off children are in progress (Njanja, A., 2017).
A study done in Mozambique showed the importance of girls getting their freedom to access education and learning opportunities. Formal education equips them with knowledge and ability to bargain on the time and person to marry. Studying up to secondary level prevents childhood marriages unlike low levels which increases it. 60% of those without education are married by 18 years unlike 10%who have secondary education.
Giving chances to young girls who are not married after school to develop economically can to a great extend reduce poverty. This can be through basic skills trainings, group savings, giving loans and even provision of carrier posts and placements. Means of making education affordable should also be considered by all the responsible bodies and stakeholders, this is to enhance affordability of fees and reduce limitations of girls from attending school. This alone is a step towards changing the view that marriage is the best opportunity women have (ICRW 2015). A proposal towards prevailing and traditional laws should be put in place not only paying attention to the execution of official laws set against early marriages, this is one the initiatives towards change (Sarich, et al., 2016)
According to plan international (2013) putting together chances of education, health care needs and services availabity, regulatory structure tightening can cause a makeable difference in embracing changes towards childhood marriage.
According to The African Exponent Report (2015) running activities and programs which equip girls with knowledge about their rights and improvement of their self respect and pride is also vital towards ending early marriages. This promotes the girls understanding of how important they are and even promote self trust and leadership skills in future. Parental education about marriage effects to the girls and the need to look for other income sources other than valuing the girls to cash should be advocated. Financial and material aid given to these parents to prevent them from marrying off their girls showed a great change in Ethiopia
UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2017
UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016 https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ureport/story/2000207067/are-parents-responsible-for-early-marriages-in-kisumu
UNFPA (2013). Every Woman Every Child/Girls Not Brides, Joint news release. United Nations Foundation/UNFPA/UNICEF/UN Women/WHO/World Vision/World YWCA
Marsha, A. F., C. Christine, & R. Beate (2012). The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York: Oxford University Press.