Traditional laws have rituals and demands to be met prior to marriage accomplishment. Age of marriage is set to be eighteen in section 4 of marriage acts. It defines marriage as conscious and willful union of male and female whether monogamous or polygamous $ registration as per the law. Both parties are required to have consented be adults and of opposite gender (Chigiti, 2018).
Early marriage is a worldwide calamity within all countries, cultures religions and among all ethnic groups. Kenya is among the 20 countries with high numbers of child marriage (brides, n.d) .Although there is a confirmed decrease in child marriage over the last 10 years this is still not enough to eradicate it as per the sustainable development goals (UNICEF, 2018). Close to twenty five million marriages have been prevented over the last 10 years.650 million is the current estimation of worldwide child marriage. Population married each year stand at 12 million. The sustainable development target stands at 5.3.
Individual children have lawful schooling entitlement. This is guarded by international tradition and concession that binds majorly to organization states Kenya included. The UN proclamation of human right states that everyone has a right to education of which it should be free and obligatory at the basic level. It is clearly stipulated n Kenyan laws that marriage should consensual and between individuals above 18years of age. Marriage for Children below this age can’t be sensible. The agreement on the withdrawal/ending all extant segregation against women and the minor right congress contains a detailed set of implementable devotions on education and gender equality rights (NCCC, 2010) The Sustainable development goal number five (UN, 2015)also stresses the need for gender equality in education and women empowerment.
Almost everywhere, women in rural areas are liable to get married at a tender age compared to those in rural areas. Their degree of education also has a vital role (UN, 2015).In the United States of America, 2.1% of girls aged 15-17 were married early,7.6% of girls aged 15-19 were cohabiting(UN,2010). In Oceana and South East Asia, 22%of girls experience early marriage each year,12% get married before age 15 (UNPA, 13)Girls in Bangladesh and Afghanistan face early marriage whereby 50% are married under 18 years.
As per UNICEF report, Africa is ranked with the highest rates of early marriages especially in these three countries namely Chad 67%, Niger 76%, and central Africa with more than 68%girl marrying under 18 (Raid, 2018) .
40% of women in sub-Saharan Africa enter marriage by 18 years; most of them are the second or third wives of polygamous homesteads (UNICEF, 2012). An estimated 23% of girls are married before their 18th birthday in Kenya today with 4% 0f them married before 15 years (UNICEF 2017). Although Kenya has a law fighting against the practice of early childhood marriages it is still practiced in the country’s rural. In a comparison of a number of girls to boys married by age of 18, girls stand at 11.6% which is higher than for boys which stand at 11.6%.
The national prevalence rate is at 34% for girls and 1.4% for males (plan international 2011). Child marriage and female genital mutilation are two of the key violations against young girls in the country despite having enough laws against the retrogressive practice.
A countrywide survey showed that these counties namely Kisii, Kuria, West Pokot, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, and Garissa still record large numbers of child marriages. Girls are largely affected than boys at 11% and 1% respectively at ages between 15-19years; this means that more needs to be done to save girls from these practices (Odhiambo, 2017)
According to (Wako, 2017), Parents marry off their children at a tender age for prestige; they are not allowed out of wedlock to conceive at their parents’ homes. Parents receive a bride prize which is determined by whether one is a virgin at the time of being sold off. Key reasons for this include gender inequality, tradition ; poverty. Girls from families of a low socioeconomic class are 2.5 times more likely to marry in childhood compared to those from .a higher socioeconomic class. Those from rural areas are twice likely to face it compared to those in urban settings. This practice also varies with regions with northeastern and coast with the highest observed rates compared to regions like Nairobi and central as the lowest. Childhood marriage is a violation of human rights it limits girls options on top of exposing them to increased health risks and complications like premature deaths during the intra partum period in most developing countries. Young married girls are at an increased risk of compacting HIV in Kenya, a survey in kisumu revealed that 33%of married girls were infected as compared to 22%of unmarried sexually involved age mates (unicef, 2016).
Among the Maasai community in Kenya high rates of child brides is reported.90%of girls are married and exposed to traditional cultural practices like FGM. (Kenya, n.d), the girls drop out of school due to pressures of marriage.
A marked increase in child marriage has been evident by an increase in the percentages between the year 2015 and 2018, this is from4% to 23% (Unicef, 2018)