From NPR: A Battle for the Stolen Childhoods of Kenyan Girls

December 3, 2012 by

From National Public Radio, the difficulties many Kenyan girls face who are pushed into prostitution or early marriage — and the CRS gender-based violence prevention program that works to help them:

Life can be especially cruel for girls growing up on Kenya’s Swahili Coast. Some families sell their daughters to earn the bride price, while others encourage them to become child prostitutes for tourists. The girls drop out of school and have babies, and their childhoods are stolen. Now, a coalition of educators, religious and traditional leaders is fighting back.

Thirteen teenage girls — all with babies on their laps — are gathered around a table in the town hall of Msabaha village, not far from the beach resort of Malindi.

Dhahabu Lazima, 17, was just 13 years old when her father ordered her to marry.

“I was in class 4 then, when he married me off,” she says. “I was very angry with my father for using me as a tool to get money, in a marriage that I really suffered.”

“I tried talking to him before I went to the husband’s place. I told him, ‘Father, I want to go through education, I want to learn,’ but he wouldn’t listen to me,” Lazima continues. “He told me, ‘If you don’t go, I will curse you.’ So that is what I feared and I had to get married. I feared getting cursed by my father.”

Across the table, 18-year-old Janet Reheme wears a T-shirt that reads “Sweet Baby.” Her infant son is transfixed by a microphone.

She says her family had no income, and they needed to pay school fees for her siblings. She was 15 when her mother sold her to an abusive 28-year-old man to be his wife.

“When I dropped out of school, she married me off. She did not get a lot of money. She just got 2,000 Kenya shillings [about $24] and two goats,” she says.

Read the full article from National Public Radio, which describes the CRS program responding to this situation.

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