Ingrid Bateta (not real names), a sixteen year old girl, would have been forced into premature marriage hadn’t it been for Rwanda National Police officers who intervened in an already arranged marriage and blocked it.
It emerged that the parents of the teenager, who is in senior one, were in contact with a man only identified as Yusuf living in Kenya and that plans were in advanced stages to have her travel to Kenya where she would be married to Yusuf.
“We have so far established that someone took a photo of the girl, sent it to Yusuf along with her parents’ contacts. Yusuf got in touch with the family and they agreed on Rwf400, 000 as dowry which he sent and cleared the dowry,” Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Theobard Kanamugire, police spokesperson for the Western Region, said.
The unlawful act come to light after the would-be victim informed neighbours insisting that she wasn’t ready for marriage and wanted to continue with her studies, who in turn called police and local authorities.
“We hurriedly met with the family and the neighbours, held a meeting and informed them that early marriage is criminal. We also informed them that having the girl married would be violating her rights as a child which is against the constitution and punishable under the Rwandan penal code and other international legal instruments,” CIP Kanamugire said.
He singled out article 28 of the constitution provides that “every child shall be entitled to special protection measures by his or her family, the society and the State as are deemed necessary, depending on the status of the child, under national and international law.”
“The family law has fixed the minimum age of marriage to 21 years. While the penal code has made it an offence for anyone to be involved in specified acts in relation to early or forced marriage. Particularly, article 195 of the penal code specifies that any person who knowingly plays any role in facilitation or enabling early or forced marriage of a minor shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to Rwf300, 000,” CIP Kanamugire told the residents.
“Although the girl’s parents were not arrested, they were advised that any further attempt to have the girl married prematurely will result into further appropriate legal action.”
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