Fatuma*, 17, from Melti, Isiolo, has seen it all.
At the age of 13, she married a wealthy local businessman in exchange for 12 cows and 25 goats for her third wife.
Fatuma was in Standard Five when she was married.
“My mother was crying when I got home from school in the evening.
“Before I got the news, my father came to the kitchen where we were and ordered me to follow him,” she says.
“I got scared and ran after him. There were two cars that had just arrived on the premises, and he handed me over to a stranger.
When Fatuma arrived at the couple’s home, she was greeted by one of the businessmen’s wives who told her that she would be performing her duties as a wife to her husband for the day.
“The man sexually assaulted me and quickly became pregnant. Given my age, I was stillborn at five months pregnant. I almost died.”
“Six months later I got pregnant again,” she continued.
“This time I was pregnant to full term, but when labor started I was taken to Manyatta for delivery but was unable to push the baby out. As a last resort I was taken to the hospital though. , an examination revealed that the baby was already dead in the womb.”
She underwent surgery and was able to give birth by caesarean section, but after some time the wounds did not heal and when she returned to the hospital she was told that she would need to have her uterus removed in order to give birth.
“One night I used the money he had left at home for transportation. I ran away and went to Marsabit County for medicine, where I had my uterus removed and stayed in a rented house until it healed.” says Fatuma.
“I’ve lost my femininity and will never have children of my own,” she added tearfully. You can make a living doing menial jobs, but you can’t go home. ”
Fatuma is one of the girls in Isiolo County who married against their will at a young age.
Early marriage is common in Isiolo County. Parents get their children married at an early age in order to gain fame and income.
The move is also aimed at preventing girls from becoming pregnant out of wedlock while visiting their fathers’ homes, lowering the chances of marriage and the price of brides.
Between October 2021 and October 2022, 87 girls aged 10 to 14 became pregnant, according to data from the Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) in Isiolo District.
1,873 girls aged 15 to 19 became pregnant and 3,641 girls aged 20 to 24 became pregnant.
The data includes only teenage mothers who sought medical care in health facilities, but the actual number is likely much higher as the majority of residents do not attend antenatal clinics. .
Marrying a young girl in this community gives the family a few more cows, camels and goats than if they were over 18. Families can sell these animals and use the proceeds to care for them.
In it, teenage girls will suffer loneliness, and no one is ready to reverse the trend of early marriage. They just suffer in silence. This problem affects not only Isiolo County, but the entire country.
Adolescent mothers aged 10 to 19 are at higher risk of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) .
Eclampsia is a rare but serious condition that occurs late in pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, and seizures.
Postpartum endometritis is a uterine infection caused by bacteria typically rising from the lower genital tract or gastrointestinal tract.
The WHO further notes that babies born to adolescent mothers face risks of low birth weight, premature birth and severe neonatal conditions.
According to the Ministry of Health, one in five adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in Kenya are already mothers or are pregnant with their first child.
Underage girls’ reproductive systems are not fully developed and are therefore not ready to conceive, says Professor Gordon Nguka, an expert in nutrition and dietetics at the Masinde Murillo University of Science and Technology. .