Fighting for stolen childhoods

Being a girl on Kenya’s Swahili coast often means one of two things: you will be forced to marry young, around the age of 13, or you will be forced to prostitute yourself to tourists.  Girls do not have a say in their lives, husbands or whether they would like to stay in school.

Selling your daughter is thought to be, just the way things are.  A tradition, a cultural norm, a custom of the people.  However, there are groups who are working to change these ideas.

Catholic Relief Services is working in the area, through community leaders, to help educate parents that it is illegal to marry or prostitute your daughter before she is 17.  They are having success with the program.  However, one woman is seen as the real hero-

“If there’s a hero in this story, it is Esther Kutto, principal of Dabaso Primary School in the beach resort of Watamu.

Her teachers act like social workers: If they notice a girl has dropped out of school, they go looking for her. And if they find that the girl has been married off, or sold to a white foreigner, they notify the police. Like the kaya elders, Kutto educates her students’ parents that early marriage is wrong.”

Read about her success and the full story here.

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