Umoja: a woman fled from their husbands, and founded his own village
In the world there is a place where only women live. It is a village-based rape and beatings, that men could dispose of as cattle. The word "Umoja" in Swahili means unity. This unity grew bleak dry and hard soil of the desert, like an oasis ...
The village of Umoja is located near the town and Archers Post Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. Just two and a half decades ago, here on the banks of the river Uaso was a sun-scorched land.
Umoja Village (Umoja) appeared in 1990. It was then recorded the women's group "Umoja Uaso" led by Rebecca Lolosoli twenty-eight. But it all started much earlier ...
It all began with Rebecca
Rebecca Lolosoli (Rebecca Lolosoli) was born in 1962 in the village of Wamba, Samburu District. Her father had three wives, and she was the fourth of six children. Rebecca was educated in a Catholic nursing a training center. She was only six months before the end, when I had to leave school because of money to pay is not enough.
Woman in Samburu tribe no rights, it equates to a cow or farm implements. Woman "buy" the family by giving in return as a head of cattle. Rebecca herself, when she was 18 years old, bought the bridegroom by paying a ransom of 17 cows. After the marriage the wife becomes the property of her husband. If he wants to kill her, no one in the tribe did not reproach - he honestly bought it from their parents! But Rebecca says her husband was a good one. He did not hurt her, even when she was engaged in trade, although Samburu not accepted that women have their own business. But other men in the village did not like Rebecca enterprise, and cost her husband to leave the house, they came and beat her.
In addition, despite the ban in 2011, many members of the tribe Samburu continue to practice early "temporary" marriage. Girls, the youngest of which are not older than 6 years, receive their first necklace (which is famous for the Samburu people) from his father at the ceremony, which is called "weaving beads." Father after the ceremony for the daughter chooses "warrior", with whom she is obliged to enter into a temporary marriage. In this case, pregnant at the time of this marriage is forbidden, but there is no affordable contraception. So you have to go for abortions, which make older women of the tribe. And there's still alive barbaric tradition of female circumcision, as in many parts of Africa.
The threat lay in wait, not only by the tribesmen, but also by soldiers of the British Army who were stationed in the training camp near the village. Rebecca said: "They wore green uniforms, which were hard to see against the background of trees. Often when women collected firewood, the soldiers jumped out from behind the trees and raped them. They laughed, for them it was a game. "
On mass rape of women Samburu remembered with horror. "I went to graze goats and collect firewood, - says one of the victims. - I saw unfamiliar men, who were sent to me. When they ran, I was confused, "Why did they run, what happened?" I did not realize that they run it to me. I ran away, but was very tired, they caught me and raped. "
In the town of Archers Post is a dirty road that go elephants and antelopes. Two hundred women claim to have been raped there. The soldiers hunted them like animals. Milgo Haliva told how three soldiers attacked her when she washed clothes. Men came up to her and her little niece. Two baby biscuits diverted, and the third took Haliva to the side, he knocked to the ground and raped her.
After that the village rumors. When the girl's father found out what happened to his daughter, he was ashamed to go to the authorities. "In our clan - Haliva said - she should not go out with a man. It should remain with his family until he gets married. " But Haliva could not marry - she was spotted with rape.
Rebecca Lolosoli told her for years complained about the rape to the authorities Samburu District. But they were men, and they did not listen to her.
Against the British soldiers was filed in 1400 for the rape of women. But in 2006, after three years of legal proceedings, all the accused were acquitted. In conclusion, it is said that the evidence in the case had been fabricated by the women themselves. Judges did not convince either mestizo children born after rape, no evidence of the victims ... Houses lay in wait for women is another danger - the husbands of raped women were expelled from their homes or brutally beaten, believing that they have brought shame on the family. Left without a livelihood, some kicked the woman began selling home-made alcohol and went to jail. Their children are left unattended, a few hyenas dragged off and eaten ...
But that all changed when the 15 women decided to found their own village - a place where a woman will be entitled to vote and safety.
"We decided to create our own group, to change your life - says Rebecca Lolosoli. - Now women are good. They care about their children and teach them to be strong. "
The word "Umoja" in Swahili means unity. This unity grew bleak dry and hard soil of the desert, like an oasis. But it was not at once. Women began with the fact that the sugar and corn sold in small portable tents - manyattah.
Two years later, they found their path - instead of food began to sell to tourists decorations and crafts, hand made.
Women's work noticed Kenya Wildlife Service and took needlewomen in an educational tour in the Masai Mara National Park, so they put there the samples of souvenirs. After the trip, I was born a new project - to establish a cultural center and village where one would invite tourists. Activists few years saved money, it has not yet managed to collect 200,000 shillings (about 2,700 dollars). For this amount they were able to buy land. It was the first place that belonged to them and nobody else.
The project does not remain without attention of the village men. In Samburu women can not own land. After the activists applied for registration of rights to land, the men beat them. They threatened to shoot Rebecca Lolosoli to "turn women back to the women." They attacked the women right in front of tourists, hoping it would deter them from Umoja, and even founded his own village close to cut off the tourists path to the village. But these women have experienced violence and threats heard enough. They are accustomed to the fact that the world is turning away from them - maybe they thought that they had nothing more to lose.
Resident of Umoja founded the camping Tourist and cultural center, which is now popular with foreigners. But the group was engaged in not only building their own villages, but also in educational activities. Activists told other women about their rights, urged pregnant women to apply for medical assistance, advise how to start a business. It is a resident of Umoja first talked about the cases of mass rape and brought the matter to court.
Very, very without men?
Gradually, the village began to expand - more and more women come to the shelter to find protection there, and the house. Currently living in the village of 47 women and 200 children. Where as many children in the village if there are no men?
In fact, there is. The only man who can be found in Umoja, name Lotukoi. He grazes cattle. "Children, firewood and cooking - it's all women's affairs, and the man should look after the cattle, - he says his appearance. - You do not see men here, but you can see the children, which means that women take men outside. "
In the village next door, too, go to such rumors. Samuel, a nearby village elder, says that men from his village four or five wives of Umoja.
"This is the village where women live by themselves. Some of them - rape victims, others had to go through early child marriage. They think that they can survive without men, but it is impossible. "
Well, as long as they do it. Despite the fact that women live very economically, they are able to receive a steady income from tourists, who are invited to live in a camp nearby, and heavy breaking work. The village even has a school, where the older woman told the girls that they do not have to live the life which men have prepared for them.
In order not to depend on the unstable demand for jewelry in the village began to cooperate with non-governmental BOMA charity that helps women create their own agricultural business. On the women's course, students determine what products are on the market demand, to seek buyers, keep accounts and make savings.
"Outside, women control men - says an elderly resident of Umoja Shoichi Lengima. - Women have the freedom of Umoja ".