A girl was forced to marry two older men – aged 51 and 35 – in under a month before being rescued in Kenya.
Her father, who belongs to the Maasai tribe from Narok County, around 70 miles west of Nairobi, is now being searched for by police.
The girl said her father had ‘forcefully’ married off both of her older sisters and wanted the same for her after her 51-year-old husband-to-be offered him a dowry of four cows to have her as a second wife.
He decided it was the perfect time for marriage when schools closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, she said.
After refusing the offer, and telling her father she wanted to continue her studies, she was beaten by her male cousins who accused her of dishonouring the family.
‘Girls are born so that people can eat. All I want is to get my dowry,’ the father reportedly told her.
She was wed to the older man but escaped two weeks later.
The youngster told the Kenyan Standard newspaper that she was forced to ‘elope’ with a 35-year-old man who was already married to escape from the older husband.
Her father tracked her down and dragged her back to the man.
A children’s rights group learnt of her plight after being tipped off while rescuing another child.
Narok Peace Ambassador Joshua Kaputa, who rescued the youngster and is now her guardian, said the father and the two husbands have since gone into hiding.
He added that poverty and school closures due to coronavirus lockdown are adding to recently observed increases in cases of child marriage.
‘Some families are hungry and the prospect of receiving two or three cows as dowry is quite tempting,’ he told the BBC.
Child marriage is illegal in Kenya, with the age of wedlock set at 18 years old. Each of the male parties in the case could be imprisoned for five years and fined a maximum of one million Keynan shillings (£8,000).
Despite laws prohibiting marrying children, 23 per cent of Kenyan girls are still wed before their 18th birthday, with four per cent before they’re 15.
Child marriage NGO Girls Not Brides says the driving force behind the crime is split between poverty, poor education, adolescent pregnancy and traditional customs, among other factors.
Young girls tend to be seen as commodities that can be traded.