12-year-old girl was rescued by Kenyan authorities after she was married to two men within a month. The girl's father, in Narok County west of the capital Nairobi, forced her to marry a 51-year-old man.
She escaped and later married a 35-year-old man before being rescued by a child rights activist and government officials. In Kenya, it is a crime to marry someone under the age of 18. A child rights activist said he was told about the girl's existence while he was saving another girl.
"The father gave her to the elderly man to marry her. She had no choice but to marry the younger one," Joshua Kaputah of the Narok County Peace Association. Mr. Kaputah added that poverty and the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic have played a role in the increase in cases of child marriage.
“Some families are hungry and the prospect of receiving two or three cows as a dowry is quite tempting,” he said. A girl who was saved Kenyan newspaper Standard reports that after the first groom offered four cows as a dowry, the girl protested the marriage but was subsequently beaten by her cousins.
"I escaped and since I couldn't return to my father for fear of being reprimanded, I ran away with a 35-year-old man, who was married," she reportedly told The Standard.
Mr Kaputah said the girl's father then found her and brought her back to the 51-year-old man. When Mr. Kaputah arrived with government officials, the man was already missing.
Police are looking for the father and the two men who married the girl, who all went into hiding, local media reported. If found guilty, they could be sent to jail for up to five years and / or be fined up to 1 million Kenyan shillings ($ 10,000).
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