Tuesday, April 25, 2006

beginning with some news that is true... in Umoja, Kenya, a women-only village

Thriving women-only village is attacked by jealous locals

By Mike Pflanz in Archer's Post
(Filed: 16/07/2005)

A group of Kenyan women who fled abusive husbands to set up their own women-only community are facing increasingly violent attacks by local men angry at their success.

Turning traditional African patriarchy on its head, 15 women established Umoja village in 1990, as a refuge after their husbands' behaviour forced them to flee their homes.


They all fled after daily beatings from their husbands or brothers, often because they said they had been raped, some allegedly by British soldiers training nearby, and so had brought shame on their homes.

After trying to survive alone, brewing traditional beer in the bush to sell by the roadside, they banded together and began building Umoja, which means ''unity'' in Kiswahili.

Money started flowing into their newly-opened bank account from sales of the bead necklaces, which take three days to make.

Word spread. More women arrived, their belongings on their heads, babies strapped to their backs.

"I was raped and I told my husband and he started beating me, even when I was carrying the child, so I ran away and joined these people here," said Paulina Lekuriya, a striking woman with a wide smile who guesses her age at 35. Her story is echoed by the others.

Naturally, the men, whether single or husbands, did not appreciate the women's new-found independence, and did whatever they could to undermine them, including starting up their own village and trying to lure away the tourists, among other tactics.

Read the rest of Pflanz's story here. But that is not all...

Emily Wax also wrote on Umoja in the New York Times, concluding her story with a description of a detente (sort of)...

[...] Lately, the residents of the men's village have been admitting defeat. They are no longer trying to attract tourists. Some have moved elsewhere. Others have had trouble getting married because some women in the area are taking Lolosoli's example to heart.

"She has been successful, it's true." sighed Lesinik, who said maybe he is a little bit jealous.

Update: More recently, Rebecca Lolosoli was invited to chair: Violence Against Indigenous Women, sponsored by MADRE, FIMI, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. See flyer.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home