A 21-year-old woman on Tuesday defied cultural dictates by escaping from a forced marriage arranged by her family.

The Strathmore College student hid in the fourth floor of Sheria House shortly before her turn to take a marriage oath before the Registrar of Marriages came.

The young woman had been taken suddenly ill following pressure for her to tie the knot with a man she barely knew but was being forced to join in matrimony.

She ducked into the ladies toilet, where she hid, leaving her family and “husband to be” desperately searching for her.

The woman had gone to Sheria House around 11am to join members of the two families following threats and pressure from her family.

Only met once

Her “husband to be” arrived in the country on Monday for the “marriage” ceremony.

Speaking to Nation Media Group journalists, the hysterical woman said she had a boyfriend she intended to get married to after her studies.

She claimed she had only met her “husband to be”once, following arrangements made by her parents.

The first-born in a family of two children felt the two families were playing with emotions.

“My only brother who is 20 years old has repeatedly cursed me, claiming I want to kill my parents out of pressure. Nobody seems to care about my stand on this. They don’t even see that I have been taken ill,” she said.

The woman hid in the toilet until members of the family who had come to witness the “marriage” left after failing to locate her.

She had rushed to the toilet a fourth time to throw up, and decided to take cover.

Family members were duped into leaving the building by friends of the woman, who said she had been rushed to a hospital for medical attention following the pressure.

“This is against my will. This is not what I want. I am not psychologically prepared to get married now and I am being forced by my parents,” she said.

I’m not prepared

She added: “This is all because culture states that I am supposed to marry a man my parents choose. But I’m not prepared”.

The woman appealed for support, adding, she would appreciate if her parents gave her a chance to explain her stand.

“I wrote a letter to my father on my decision, but he failed to appreciate my stance. They were upset and declined to listen to me,” she said.

A friend whisked her away and will be giving her accommodation, hoping that the matter will be put to rest and her decision respected.

Source: Daily Nation 25 November 2008