A nine-year-old girl in Kenya has been rescued after suffering a four-year-long trauma of being married to a man old enough to be her grandfather. Younis was married off by her parents according to the local Samburu traditions, which allow child marriage, female genital mutilation and offering girls to male relatives for sex. However, these activities are illegal in Kenya.
"When I was about nine years old, my father married me off to an old man who was 78 years old. I went to his home and I stayed with him one week. He told me that I will be a wife but I was just innocent, I wanted to go to school. But that man wanted me to be a third wife. I told him, I will not be your wife, and he caned me," Younis told CNN.
"Then I heard that there is a woman who helps children. I came from Baragoi barefoot; I didn't even have shoes that day. I came to Maralal ... Kulea took me to [the] children's office, she rescued me."
Although Younis was rescued by Josephine Kulea and her Samburu Girls Foundation, she now faces the risk of being ostracised by her family and community. "All the girls in the village are at risk. This one is nine years old but they want [to] marry her off. That's why they are asking for her to go to school," Kulea said.
Kulea, who has been fighting against these traditions since 2011, said: "I realised we are the only ones doing FGM, female genital mutilation, the other communities [are] not doing it. I ... came to realise that there are things that are not right and I need to make a difference, that's how I started rescuing girls." When Kulea decided to fight against these traditions, she first rescued her two cousins. One was barely 10 years old and was about to get married.
Many in the Samburu community do not like the changes she is trying to bring but Kulea says: "There is hope. And I know when we take more kids to school in future there will be a difference in my community."