Sheila, not her real name, a 12, year-old was forcefully married to an old man by her wealth-minded father whose aim was to increase his household wealth. In her community, parents are known to embrace this retrogressive practice of marrying off their daughters at a tender age in exchange for wealth.
“I heard a knock at our place at around 9 Pm. I was all alone. It was my father. Upon opening, he was with 9 other men.5 of them forced their way in and grabbed me out taking me to Masol area with them. That is when I knew I had been married off.“
Growing up was challenging for both Sheila and 4 of her siblings. After their mother passed on, their father abandoned them and remarried. Being the firstborn daughter, she had to take up the role of both a father and mother to her younger siblings. None of them has ever been to any school since it was a norm in Orwa area where they lived.
To put food on the table for their family, Sheila had to go to the gold mines at a tender age. She would wake up as early as 5 am to mine.
“I had no other choice than to follow the men as I had no one to defend me. When I got to Masol, I discovered that I had been married off to a man old enough to be my father (approximately 42 years).To worsen the situation I was to be his second wife.“
Early the next day (5 am), Sheila and the first wife were sent out to the gold mines in Masol river. Later that evening after the mine she tried escaping but luck was not on her side. She was caught by her Suitor and the 9 men who had been on a binge-drinking spree as a form of celebration.
“They beat me up using a thorny stick that saw me getting several marks on my shoulder, neck, and part of my face. Then took me with them to my Suitor’s mother fearing that I could escape again.“
As a normal routine, she had to go back the next day to the gold mines with the elder wife. It was during this time that she managed to escape walking for about 40km to the nearest police station, Marich.
“From the anti-Fgm campaigns on radio, I knew that child marriage was a crime and the police could help me out.“
The police in charge at the gender desk office in Marich, Mr. Abdi together with other officers launched a manhunt for the suspects who went into hiding after learning of Sheila’s disappearance.
The gender department at the Marich police post in collaboration with I_Rep foundation helped Sheila to seek further medication at the Kapenguria referral hospital as well as find a safe space for her.