Teen marriages remain a significant concern in Makueni County, as they can have long-lasting consequences for the lives of young individuals. While efforts have been made to address this issue, it continues to persist, highlighting the need for sustained intervention and education to combat this harmful practice. This article explores the complexities surrounding teen marriages in Makueni County, including the underlying factors, consequences, and strategies for prevention
In Makueni County , cultural norms, traditions, and socio-economic factors often contribute to the prevalence of teen marriages. Early marriages are sometimes seen as a way to preserve family honor, maintain social status, or alleviate economic hardships. Furthermore, gender inequality, poverty, lack of access to education, and limited awareness about sexual and reproductive health rights exacerbate the vulnerability of young girls to early marriages.
The consequences of teen marriages are far-reaching and impact various aspects of young individuals’ lives. Education is often disrupted, as young girls are forced to drop out of school to assume adult responsibilities. The denial of education limits their future prospects, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and hindering their ability to reach their full potential. Additionally, early marriages often result in early pregnancies, increasing the risk of maternal and infant mortality, as well as other health complicationsThis is evident by a school in Kalawani location, Mbooni subcounty, Makueni county called Kyanguma secondary school. When we were finding out on teen marriages, the school recorded 5% of girls in 2023 class had already been married and were in early pregnancies.
Socially, teen marriages have denied young individuals in makueni county the opportunity to fully explore their personal and professional aspirations. They may face limited autonomy, restricted decision-making power, and increased vulnerability to gender-based violence. The psychological and emotional impact of entering into marriage prematurely can also have long-lasting effects on their mental well-being and self-esteem.
Addressing the issue of teen marriages requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. Education plays a crucial role in empowering young individuals with knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about their lives. By promoting access to quality education for both boys and girls, Makueni County has provided a supportive environment that encourages young individuals to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
In addition to education, community engagement and awareness programs are vital in changing social norms and dismantling harmful practices. Sensitization campaigns have been conducted to highlight the negative consequences of teen marriages and the importance of delaying marriage until individuals are of legal age and ready to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. Engaging community leaders, parents, and religious institutions has been instrumental in shifting cultural perceptions and promoting positive change in Makueni. On June 2023, there was a seminar held at Tawa social hall in Mbooni subcounty were the Women representative Rose Museo and Bishop Mutua of Redeemed Gospel church Kyalya was in attendance. The event was all about teen marriages were over 500 girls were present.
Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services has been crucial for empowering young individuals to make informed choices about their bodies and reproductive health. By providing age-appropriate information, contraception, and support, Makueni County has ensured that young individuals have the tools and resources to make decisions that align with their well-being and future goals.
Legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms has also play a critical role in preventing teen marriages. Makueni county with the help of senator Daniel Maanzo has come up with strengthening laws that prohibit child marriages, ensuring their effective implementation, and holding perpetrators accountable are essential steps in eradicating this harmful practice. Collaboration between governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and civil society has also been crucial to ensure a coordinated and sustained effort in tackling teen marriages in the county.
In conclusion, teen marriages in Makueni County persist as a complex issue with profound implications for the lives of young individuals. By addressing the underlying factors, promoting education, raising awareness, and implementing supportive policies and programs, the county can work towards preventing teen marriages and safeguarding the rights and well-being of its young population. It is a collective responsibility to protect and empower young individuals, allowing them to reach their full potential and contribute to a prosperous and equitable society. However there is a gradual decrease in the rates of teen marriages.