Hope Beyond Foundation, a child rights organisation operating in Kajiado, on Tuesday night rescued a 14-year girl from a forced marriage in Kajiado.
Nice Silantei (not her real name), a class six pupil at Iltilal Primary School in Kajiado South Sub County, was rescued by police and members of the foundation minutes before she was married off.
This was after Silantei was defiled by their neighbour in May last year and made her pregnant. The man, Petro ole Kale, 54, allegedly paid her father Sh20, 000 as a bribe after the incident, their neighbours disclosed.
Silantei claimed Kale waylaid and defiled her several times in May, last year, while on her way home from Iltilal Primary School.
“I told my parents about the incident but they took no action until I discovered I was pregnant. My father then went to the man and negotiated for Sh35, 000 so the matter can be covered. He only paid Sh20, 000,” said a sobbing Silantei.
Silantei gave birth in late January to a baby boy and in early this month, another man visited the home and sought to have Silantei married off to his relative, who is mentally retarded.
Dorcus Parit of Hope Beyond Foundation, that also runs a children’s home in Kimana town near Loitokitok, told KNU on Thursday morning that they rescued Silantei after her father, Tempere ole Ntiyieyo, arranged for her marriage.
“We received information from the villagers of goodwill that Silantei was going to be married off to a mentally retarded man who is aged 51 years. The man is also said to be HIV/Aids positive. I arranged with the police to raid the home, but unfortunately, everyone escaped except her mother who pleaded innocent,” said Parit.
Parit said mentally challenged man had never seen Silantei, who now has a 4-month-old baby boy.
The police in Loitokitok are looking for Ntiyieyo, who may face charges of attempting to marry off a minor. Kale also may be arrested for defiling and impregnating a minor.
Parit said on Thursday that Silantei is undergoing counseling at an undisclosed location so that she can later be enrolled in school.
“She is really traumatized. She had not even recovered from the rape trauma and later giving birth, and now she was going to be married off to a mentally challenged man,” said Parit.
She said she is being assisted by Loitokitok DCI and officials from the Ministry of Education in pushing for a case against the father of Silantei and the man who defiled her.
The Hope Foundation CEO said early pregnancies among girls is not the end of life, and that such girls who fall prey to rapists should be given another chance and opportunity to realise their dreams.
“Since we started fighting such injurious practices among our people in Kajiado, 3 years ago, we have been able to rescue 500 girls, take them to schools and later reconcile them with their families,” Parit disclosed.
She said female genital mutilation and early childhood marriages among the local people is rampant.
“Poverty is also playing a major role in this vice that has taken root in this region. Poor families would do anything with their minor daughters to get food on the table,” she added.