COURT SENDS STERN WARNING TO MEN WHO TARGET CHILDREN FOR MARRIAGE.

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Narok High Court Judge Francis Gikonyo who has sent a stern warning to men marrying under age girls.

BY SAM ALFAN.

The High Court in Narok has condemned men who marry underage girls saying such action deny young women a chance of furthering their education.

While jailing a man for marrying an underage girl to 15 years in prison, Justice Francis Gikonyo said that the conduct of some men seducing and impregnating underage girls and then converting them into their wife’s is unlawful.

Denis Njapit had moved to the High Court in an attempt to overturn the sentence imposed on him by a Narok court in January 2019 for marrying a 17-year-old girl.

“This is a long life forcible confinement of a minor into undesired motherhood by the appellant. I repeat; you admire, marry and defile the prohibited- a child you will surely tremble in the right place; the prison, for a long time or life,” said the judge.

The judge dismissed the appeal saying marrying a child is unconstitutional as well as criminal act. Justice Gikonyo said such actions is an infringement of the right of the child enshrined and protected in the Bill of Rights as well as international instruments recognised by Kenya.

He added that it is criminal because the girl is exposed to sexual intercourse which will cause penetration with a child- and which amounts to defilement contrary to the Sexual Offences Act.

The judge said a child is incapable of consenting or of appreciating the nature of sexual intercourse- penetration.

“Accordingly, I sound a stern warning to those traditional cultures which marry away children- girls- that by admiring and marrying and engaging in sexual intercourse with a child, they indulge in what is prohibited by law. Parents or guardians who give away their children for marriage should also be charged in a court of law,” said the judge.

The judge said to eradicate this vice, the country needs collective efforts- both soft and hard- through education of the public as well as punishment of the offender.

The judge found that the prosecution proved their case beyond reasonable doubt and that the trial court did not error in convicting the elderly man for defilement.

“In these circumstances, a sentence of 15 years was quite lenient. Nonetheless, it is capable of acting as a deterrent measure on these debauchery sexual attacks on children, yet, giving him an opportunity to be reintegrated back into society and be a productive citizen. I therefore see nothing upon which I may interfere with the sentence imposed of 15 years’ Imprisonment. Accordingly, I dismiss the appeal on sentence,” ruled the judge

Judge Gikonyo said the offence was serious and the manner and circumstances in which it was committed require real deterrent sentence.

“I do note that the girl was in school- in class 6 and aged 17 years- yet, the appellant seduced her. As a consequence, the victim became pregnant, dropped out of school and the appellant started to cohabit with her as his ‘wife’,” the judge said.

He said the unlawful acts forced the young girl to become a teenage mother, thus, decimating her opportunities in education and other growth opportunities.

The judge said that Njapit seemed to be justifying his action and treated the teenage mother as his wife her parents were just unhappy with the bride price. “What a shameless excuse?” Posed the judge.

In his appeal, Njapit had claimed that the minor parents reported him because they were not happy with the dowry.

The court dismissed the evidence adduced by Njapit and termed it an attempt to justify his actions.
Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji through senior Principal Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu vehemently opposed Njapit appeal.

He urged the court to uphold the trial court decision and let the convict serve his 15 years sentence.

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