At 9, Younis was forced to marry a man 69 years her senior in accordance with the Samburu tradition. She fled the man and found shelter at Samburu Girls Foundation.
Child marriage remains prevalent despite its devastating effects on the lives of girls and the case of Younis, a 13 year-old Kenyan girl married off to a 78 year-old man when she was just nine years old, speaks to the ills of the practice.
The young girl’s “parents arranged for her to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather, in accordance with local Samburu tradition,” CNN reported.
“He told me that I will be a wife but I was just innocent, I wanted to come to school. But that man wanted me to be a third wife. I told him, I will not be your wife, and he caned me,” Younis retells her ordeal to CNN.
The young girl fled the man and found shelter at Samburu Girls Foundation which is run by Josephine Kulea and the organisation which rescues “girls from child marriage, FGM and Beading then takes those girls to school. [has rescued] over 200 girls and we are sponsoring 125 girls to get an education”.
Although it would seem the work Kulea is doing is commendable, she says some in the community do not like what she’s doing.
“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,” Kulea tells CNN.
According to the International Centre for Research on Women, child marriage remains “widespread in many developing countries, child brides number over 70 million worldwide. In some countries, more than half of the girls are married before they turn 18”.
Organisations such as the GirlsNotBrides and similar initiatives have been working to “end the persistent problem” of child marriage.