Today’s Heroines: Kenya’s Women-only Village offer protection from domestic violence and rape

The small community of Unity Village is one of several women-only settlements surrounding Archer’s Post in the country’s central region.

“There is no-one who can rape us here,” Nkamasioi Lembwakita said, explaining why there were no men in the village.

The women live in traditional homes made from green branches, reeds and whatever they can find to make the roof watertight.


It is still a widely held belief by both men and women in Kenya that a husband should discipline his wife with his fists.

Nkamasioi Lembwakita, a Samburu woman who lives in Unity women's village

Most of the women in the village have been subjected to violence by men. Others have been raped.

Alice Lenamungi explained what happened when she lived with her husband.

“I used to look after the goats while my children were at school,” she said.


Photo: “There is no-one who can rape us here,” Nkamasioi Lembwakita said of the village. (ABC News: Elphas Ngugi)

“When I came home in the evening my husband would beat [me] if I lost a goat in the fields. He would refuse me food and I’d sleep on an empty stomach.”

About a year ago, Ms Lenamungi and her four children moved to Unity Village to escape the beatings.

“It’s good because there is no-one troubling [me] and my kids are at school, I am in peace,” she said.

She has cut all ties with her former husband.

“I do not want to hear from him. He has another wife now. I don’t want to disturb them,” she said.

In the village the women make handicrafts and beaded jewellery to generate a little income, but business has been slow.

A series of tribal disputes between the Samburu, the Pokot and the Turkana tribes has spilled over into violence with people shot dead in clashes over grazing lands and during cattle thefts.

The fact some women have abandoned men may be seen as a sign of enlightenment.

They realise that life does not have to be violent. Attitudes appear to be changing, but it is a slow transformation.

In 2014, protests broke out after women were viciously stripped in public simply because they had been wearing something that men deemed inappropriate.

Apin Yasin, a project coordinator for the Samburu Youth education fund, has witnessed domestic violence disguised as a cultural norm.

But the 25-year-old said people of his generation were more aware.

“A big percentage [of young men] nowadays are trying to be modern,” he said.

“They are not practising that [domestic violence] — because they went to school and they know the rights.

“They have learnt a lot about the rights of the women and the rights of the men and the rights of all human beings.”

Some of the women from Unity village making ornaments from beads





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