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Thursday, November 12, 2015
78-Year-Old Man Marries 9-Year-Old Girl. She Now Tells Her Traumatic Story
A young Kenyan girl, who was forced to marry a man that was old enough to have been her grandfather, has now been freed after four years of torture. She married the man when she was only nine years old.
Younis, who is now 13, is part of the Samburu tribe. She was sent off by her parents to get married because it was a custom in her tribe to be married at such a young and tender age, as well as cutting off the female genitals and offering girls to their male relatives to fulfill $exual fantasies of the men.
She was forced to live with her 78-year-old husband for four years until she was able to escape. She later found herself at a boarding school for girls called the Samburu Girls Foundation. She told the women at the school that she was looking for the lady that she’d heard about who specialized in helping young girls.
“I came from Baragoi barefoot, I didn’t even have shoes that day. I came to Maralal. Kulea took me to the children’s office, she rescued me.”
Taking in girls who had been disowned by their own families, the school was ran by a woman named Josephie Kulea. She helps young women who are dealing with trauma and forced genital mutilation. Kulea also manages the girls when dealing with any other horrible events that many of us couldn’t even imagine.
Josephine spoke about her school by saying, “I realised we are the only ones doing FGM, female genital mutilation, the other communities are not doing it. I came to realise that there are things that are not right and I need to make a difference, that’s how I started rescuing girls.”
Early marriage is legal in Kenya and many people from the Samburu tribe were not happy with Kulea rescuing the young girls.
She said, “Growing up from this community, everyone looks at me like, ‘You should be like us, you should not be fighting us. It’s a risk for me but I still give it a go.’”
Though Younis’ story may seem shocking, unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a young girl to be forced into marriage with a much older man. Jospehine went through the same thing, but she was rescued by her own family, which is something that doesn’t happen often.
She told the story of how she was rescued, “My first rescue was my two cousins. One was 10 years old and she was the one getting married; most of the time in my community, when the girl is getting married young, which is when they undergo female circumcision. I was alerted that she was going to get married, so I went and rescued her, and after I rescued her I took her to school. Two days later I get a call and I’m told there was a wedding in that village, and I’m like, ‘I have the girl, so who got married?’ They said it was the little sister who was seven years old – they replaced her because the cows were here and any girl had to go.”
Despite the horrible events that have taken place in Younis and Josephine’s lives, the two of them work hard at trying to stay optimistic about their current situation without letting the past get them down.