May 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Kenya Annuls Marriage Between Kids Boy’s Mom Wanted Servant; Girl’s Father Received Cattle

Associated Press
 

The government annulled a marriage between a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, arranged because his mother needed a servant and her father needed cattle.

The parents were ordered jailed last week by Kuria District Commissioner John Egesa, the Kenya News Agency reported Sunday.

There were no details on the terms of their incarceration.

The Ministry of Education is campaigning against early marriages to quell the high drop-out rate in Kuria district schools. About 87 percent of Kuria girls and 63 percent of boys don’t finish high school because of early marriages, the ministry said.

The girl’s father, Muniko Mwita, told the commissioner he married off his daughter because he needed plowing oxen. He said he received five heads of cattle as a bride price and had expected five more “when the girl matured.”

The boy’s mother, Teresa Kwamboka, said she needed household help after her three daughters had married.

“I decide to get my son a wife so that I can get someone to help me draw water and collect firewood,” she said.

The children looked bewildered when they were brought before the commissioner, but both said they wanted to return to school. The boy didn’t know he was married.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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