CULTURAL BONDAGE

Moran child beading violates girls’ right to education, free will

In beading, a boy beads a girl he wants to marry when she is still very young

In Summary

• They are exposed to uncountable violations of their rights that include early marriages. 

• This culture allows morans to reserve a young Samburu girl for an unrestricted sexual relationship with her. 

Samburu morans and young girls join in the celebrations
CULTURAL BONDAGE: Samburu morans and young girls join in the celebrations
Image: COURTESY

For years, beading has been a source of pride for communities living in Samburu, Laikipia and Marsabit.

The beauty of wearing beads has contributed largely to the tourism market in Kenya. What is not known or if known, not talked about, is the darkness behind some of the beads that are violating the rights of girls aged seven to 15 living in those communities.

Girl child beading is a silent practice that has been going on for decades majorly in Samburu county. This culture allows morans to reserve a young Samburu girl for an unrestricted sexual relationship. The girls are exposed to uncountable violations of their rights that include early marriages, denied access to formal education leading to a high level of illiteracy among girls and women.

They are also at a high risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV/Aids as some of these communities often have multiple sexual partners. It also counts for psychological stress among girls.

Political leaders who are supposed to be at the frontline in discouraging beading shy away for fear of losing their seats because the community believes anyone who goes against culture is an enemy of the community.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) recognises beading as a form of defilement. Her growth and development are compromised as she’s denied her childhood, education, her health put at risk and is limited in who she wants to become in future.

The Ministry of Health should lobby and have beading listed as a harmful cultural practice and spark conversations to mitigate the practice, right up there with retrogressive practices such as FGM and child marriage to free girls from cultural bondage.

 

Nairobi