Friday, September 23, 2011

Child Brides - Kenya

In Africa the monetary value of bride price, or bride wealth, is linked with marriage. Bride price is a sum, either in cash or kind, used to purchase a bride for her labour and fertility.

In the context of poverty, the practice of paying bride price can encourage early marriage. Young girls, a resource with which their parents can attain greater wealth, are married off a young age, for the bride price and also as a way for parents to lessen their economic burdens.

Although the legal age of marriage for both women and men in Kenya is 18, about a quarter of Kenyan girls are married before their 18th birthdays, and the number is higher in rural areas. Girls traditionally move to their husbands’ homes, where they often have little status and even less access to information and services related to family planning and reproductive health.

Masai girl-bride
More than 80 percent of married girls ages 15 to 24 in Kenya have given birth. That compares to just a third of sexually active but unmarried Kenyan girls in the same age group. In addition, the earlier a girl gets married, the earlier she has a baby, and early first births are the riskiest for women. In Kenya, the median age at first birth is 16 for girls who are married at 14 or 15, 18 for girls married at 16 or 17, and 19 for girls married at 18 or 19.

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