I was born to a pastoralist Maasai family whose trends were very nomadic. My father grew up along the border line which was quite imaginary to many people then. Sometimes they grazed their animals away from on either side (in Tanzania or Kenya)
With this kind of shifting trends they would in some seasons be in Kenya or in Tanzania. During one these seasonal trends some missionaries visited homes looking for children to take to school. This is how my father found himse among those who got a chance to go to school. He later married my mother who also had a chance of going to school. This was very rear then but it happened.
Am one of the few Maasai girls then, who were lucky to have had educated parents (both father and mother) and had a chance of going to school. Although this was good to me, on the other hand my uncles didn’t have the opportunity to go to school and conserved the stringent culture. This made it hard for my girl cousins. They underwent the suffering like all other girls in my community. They became victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Early forced marriages and early pregnancies.
Apart from the beauty of our traditions/culture on the other hand growing up as a Maasai girl is many times a shift of difficult trends due to unfavorable cultural norms. In Maasai community most men believe that they can only marry women who have undergone FGM. Women have no ruling over the same. FGM is usually the beginning of a girl’s life into adulthood. This happens at an early age of eight years old.
The rationale for FGM- The reasons for why some communities circumcise their women are deeply rooted in their traditional culture, driven by a psychosexual and social reasons, specific to each context and passed down to generations. FGM prevalence is higher in rural than urban areas.
My cousin (girl) Silato went through FGM and after healing she was married off. During her first pregnancy with no health facilities and a delayed birth with the help an untrained traditional birth attendant. She developed an obstetric fistula. People rejected her she withdrew from the public. She kept to herself. Children would hold their noses tight when they met her an indication that she had a foul smell. It became very hard for her. An obstetric fistula is caused by obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both. A woman with fistula is too often rejected by her husband and pushed out of her village due to her foul smell.
There are many girls or women who have suffered the consequences of such. Some die due to over bleeding and some of the cases go unreported. They are quietly buried and that’s how their lives end.
As a leader I would like make a positive change by supporting underage girls not to be married off. Their mental development is hard to adopt the responsibilities that come with marriage. It should never be burdened on a child. According to the convention on child rights, a child is one under eighteen years of age. I would like to see the law to this effect implemented. This is one of my main drives to supporting girls and women. I volunteer in training girls in schools and women to know their rights and embrace the same.
With Digital media, collaborating and networking with other women on world pulse, I will support my community and my country to help find solutions to many of these issues. These issues can be reported and many girls and women will get the relevant help.