Cases of child abuse are rampant in Rusinga Island. The unfortunate scenario is linked to various forms of violence that women are subjected to, which comes in terms of verbal abuse, physical, and emotional abuse. Rusinga Island is a patriarchal community that is characterized by male dominance, and this gives the males the autonomy to abuse women, despite the existing fundamental law on human rights protection. The violence women experience directly affects their children, either emotionally or physically. Children are sometimes forced to flee from homesteads with their mothers.
The issues of child labor are dominant at Rusinga Islands as children engage in fishing activities either by themselves or alongside their parents. The practice makes children stay away from schools, and this finally influences their performance and academic success in a negative way. Young boy’s fish by using hooks and lines as girls are engaged in cleaning the catch. They do the activity for meager pay or merely consumption purposes.
Boda Boda operators and fishermen along the shores of Lake Victoria in Homa Bay are cashing in on the high poverty levels that characterize the region in an innovative way to cut short education dreams of students in both primary and secondary schools. A survey carried out in the county reveals that the riders and fishermen entice students by offering free rides and a promise to pay school fees for the young girls in exchange for casual sex . The 2015 National Adolescent and Youth Survey conducted by the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) say riders offer to pay school fees for the young girls. Victims feel obliged when payback time arrives to trade in sex for the favors in addition to being offered cash for food and other educational materials at the risk of becoming pregnant.
In the Rusinga Island community’s culture, girls are married at an early age. From the study findings, more than half of the married women were aged 16-20 years. At this age, they are not mature enough to take up the responsibility of being wives or effective mothers. The reason behind early marriage in the community is to enable women to have many children when still young, and also the bridewealth paid can be used to educate the boy-child. Traditionally, the value was placed on the number of children a man had, and it seems this community still upholds this tradition. The decision to be married was done with the permission of the fathers of the girls who had control over their daughters’ lives. Culturally, women were not supposed to participate in education or any development activities both in public and private spheres. Instead, they were to be married and become good homemakers for their husbands. The cultural expectation and patterns are such that if highly educated, a girl may find it difficult to get a husband or be a good wife. The reason given for early marriage in this region is that at this time the girls are still virgins and clean and this has bargaining power in terms of payment of bridewealth.
When girls marry when they are underage, they are bound to have a myriad of health issues. Being young means one cannot make a rational decisions on the number of children to have, and control over one’s reproduction. Young girls in a marriage are not aware of their reproductive health rights as this is information one gets through education in schools and colleges. But in Suba sub-County, as the study findings indicate the majority of these women do not even complete basic education. As such, they will forever remain in darkness unless the societal perception regarding early marriage of the girl-child changes. Early marriage denies the girl-child the right to education in the sub-County. The right to education is well established in international covenants.