I don’t know why I can never seem to erase the picture of a lamb being taken to the slaughterhouse whenever I hear of child marriages. I consider the life of a child as good as over once they set foot in their matrimonial home and come face to face with the octogenarian that will be their husband.
But how does it all start? What happened to grown men shunning the good and acceptable practice of looking for a comely maiden for marriage in favor of children young enough to be their daughters and granddaughters?
Unknown to many people, some men still marry children although Kenya has made significant gains by coming up with laws that protect the children. According to the Girls not Brides organization, Kenya is not the only country facing this problem. Other countries face it as well with India and Bangladesh leading with the most child brides worldwide.
In Africa, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad have the most number of people that engage in the practice. https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/ The problem also cuts across religions and ethnicities.
Statistically speaking, 25million girls are married off before the age of 18 every year, translating to 28 girls every minute. In Kenya, a total of 484, 000 girls are married off each year. So what would make parents agree to give their young daughters hand in marriage? Traditions that have been there for a long time, insecurity worries, poverty and gender inequality are some of the reasons that make parents marry off their young daughters.
Once the young girl leaves her parents home, she is expected to be a wife in all aspects. What kind of wife can a ten or twelve-year-old child make? Let us have a look,
- Illegal marriage
According to the Article 2 Sub Article (4) of The Constitution, any law or custom that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void. This means that all the laws and customs that regulate marriages in Kenya have to fit into the Constitutional threshold and your customs that allow child marriages do not apply.
The Children’s Act is also intended to insulate and protect the child from customary practices that offend the child and this particular one does much more than offend because it takes away their entire childhood. So if you marry a child you will be having an illegal marriage and the consequences are very grave.
- Reasoning Capacity
The good book says, when I was a child, I was expected to behave like a child but now that I am an adult I have to act as one. This means that children are allowed to act in a certain way, always playing or thinking of playing with their peers, watch cartoons, go to school and so on.
They also get easily distracted and their reasoning capacity is not as matured as that of adults.That is the same person you want to take care of the home, husband, children, animals (if any). She is also supposed to plan holidays, plan meals, the budget for the home and so on. Is that even practical? For some men, the inability of children to do the above things on their own gives them total control and that, therefore, means that you do not have a wife but a robot.
- Uneducated Wife
Until the age of 18 years, all children are supposed to be in school. However, due to poverty and other reasons, some girls are forced to drop out of school and end up being wives to old men. In this day and age education plays a big role in defining our lives and shaping our futures.
Remember, you are an octogenarian or significantly older than the girl, what will she do in case of sudden death? Who will employ her, how will she able to run a business? Will she see the need to educate the children? What if you are educated and exposed will you be able to talk and reason on the same level?
- Sex and Childbearing
Before the age of 18, the reproductive system and organs of a child have not even developed. The child’s reproductive system ends up being prematurely abused when she engages in sex and childbearing.
The right to the highest attainable standard of health is enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution sub article (1) (a) and you will be in violation of it if you subject her to sex at a young age. Additionally, children do not have any or much knowledge of sex so you can imagine she will fear it as a source of pain instead of something that a married couple should enjoy.
- Child Rearing
If you marry a child, just know that you will be raising her and the others that she will bear in the relationship. If they skip rope you will find her there skipping rope well into the night with no thought of cooking supper. When teenage hood and all its troubles come along, you will also need to handle that for your wife the way you would for your children. She will also be unable to make decisions about children like what they should eat at the various stages when they should go to school, the best way to discipline them and so on.
With all things considered, marrying a child will not only take away their childhood it will also have a great impact on her children and the kind of life you will live as a family. Children are best left in school and under the care of their parents. Stop child marriages