Friday, May 13, 2011

A 12 year old Kenyan girl is several months pregnant

She’s a member of the Samburu tribe, living in a small village in a remote part of Isiolo in Kenya’s Eastern Province. The pre-teen, whose identity is being protected, claims she had sex with a relative – a rape sanctioned by the Samburu, through a practice called beading. Intricate beaded necklaces are a symbol of the Kenyan nation. But to young Samburu girls, the necklaces are a symbol not of national pride, but something much darker, that can lead to rape, unwanted pregnancies – and even the deaths of newborns. In beading, a close family relative will approach a girl’s parents with red Samburu beads and place the necklace around the girl’s neck. Effectively he has booked her. It is like a temporary engagement, and he can then have sex with her. Girls are also beaded as an early marriage promise by non-relatives. Some girls who are beaded are no more than 6 years old. Samburu culture dictates that girls be engaged to a relative and they are allowed to have sex with him. But they are not allowed to get pregnant and there is no preventative measures. At the end of the day, most girls get pregnant and these infants end up dying or being killed or being given away. When they reach adulthood, Samburu girls will marry outside of their village, but taboo dictates that the girls will never be able to marry if they keep their babies resulting from beading. Some girls undergo a crude abortion before their pregnancy advances. Others hide their condition until it is too late for that. They let them give birth, but only to kill these babies. If the girls are lucky, their babies are given away to strangers. Most of these girls are traumatized and some get infections from the crude abortions.

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