Child Marriages, Child Protection and Sustainable Development in Kenya: Is Legislation Sufficient?

Ajwang Warria

Abstract

Globally, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18, with Kenya having one of the highest child marriages prevalence in the world, estimated at 25-30%. Child marriages in Kenya are rampant in rural areas. Child marriages are part of customary practices in communities where they are prevalent. Child marriages have also been used as a survival strategy by families. Child marriages compromise a child‘s development and threaten the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. This paper highlights international conventions and analyses Kenyan legislative framework that have been put in place to protect children from child marriages. A review of literature was undertaken and the analysis showed that Kenya has a strong legal framework to
fight child marriages and to prosecute perpetrators. However, the practice still remains rampant and is on the increase in certain areas. Indeed, child marriage policies and reproductive health measures targeting children should reflect a child-rights approach and also focus on socioeconomic vulnerabilities to address the root causes. In addition, it should be acknowledged that child
protection and reproductive well-being are collective processes requiring collective responsibility and not only legislative and policy reforms. (Afr J Reprod Health 2019; 23[2]: 121-133).

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