12-Year-Old Rescued After Forced to Marry Two Kenyan Men Aged 51 & 35
Child forced to marry to two older men in under a month in Kenya
A 12-year-old girl has been rescued by authorities in Kenya after she was forced to marry two older men in under a month, according to reports.
The young girl was reportedly sold by her father to a 51-year-old man first, who wanted the child to be his "second wife."
The girl said her father had already "forcefully" married off both of her older sisters and struck a deal for her with 51-year-old husband-to-be, who offered him a dowry of four cows.
The child's father, who belongs to the Maasai tribe from Narok County, around 70 miles west of Nairobi, is now being searched for by the police.
When schools closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, he decided it was the perfect time to sell his daughter off to the highest bidder, she said.
After telling her father she wanted to continue her studies rather than marry a man in his 50s, she was beaten by her male cousins who accused her of "dishonoring the family."
"Girls are born so that people can eat," the father reportedly told her.
"All I want is to get my dowry."
She was wed to the older man but escaped two weeks later.
The youngster told the Kenyan Standard newspaper that she was forced to "elope" with a 35-year-old man who was already married to escape from the older husband.
Her father tracked her down and dragged her back to the man.
A children's rights group learned of her plight after being tipped off while rescuing another child.
Narok Peace Ambassador Joshua Kaputa, who rescued the youngster and is now her guardian, said the father and the two husbands have since gone into hiding.
He added that poverty and school closures due to coronavirus lockdown are adding to recently observed increases in cases of child marriage.
"Some families are hungry and the prospect of receiving two or three cows as dowry is quite tempting," he told the BBC.
Child marriage is illegal in Kenya, with the age of wedlock set at 18 years old.
Each of the male parties in the case could be imprisoned for five years and fined a maximum of one million Keynan shillings ($10,000).
Despite laws prohibiting marrying children, 23 percent of Kenyan girls are still wed before their 18th birthday, with four percent before they're 15.
Child marriage NGO Girls Not Brides says the driving force behind the crime is split between poverty, poor education, adolescent pregnancy, and traditional customs, among other factors.
Young girls tend to be seen as commodities that can be traded.