Globally, one in every five girls is married off before age 18.
But girls like Kakenya Ntaiya are rejecting this practice. “I grew up in rural Kenya. The traditional way of life for girls was to undergo female genital mutilation in preparation for marriage at a young age,” she told UNFPA. “I escaped child marriage and fought for my education.” She went on to establish Kakenya’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that uses education to empower girls and transform rural communities.
On this Valentines Day, while some of us in privileged countries are browsing online fashions for our amusement, the U.N. is focusing on child brides. The Wikipedia article for Kakenya Ntaiya was nearly deleted before it could even get off the ground. Her organization, the Kakenya Center for Excellence, is still a red link, in spite of plenty of refs, including National Geographic, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the woke and edgy Teen Vogue, which continues to defy reports of its demise.
The Kekenya Ntaiya article unfortunately does use the term “circumcision” instead of “female genital mutilation”, which BTW has a most excellent article written and politely but very firmly maintained by the talented and scary SlimVirgin.
The article for Sudanese child bride Noura Hussein, whose death sentence for killing her forced husband was overturned last year, is now in four languages.
There are probably a lot of other ad hoc organizations and individuals we are not yet aware of, but to my knowledge no one has done any meaningful inventory of the field. Legal reform in Lebanon has stalled, for example. The law in Lebanon allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victims.
The hashtag is #IDONT.