free website hit counter Spiced Tea & Letters: A Place Where Women Rule

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Place Where Women Rule

(By Emily Wax -- The Washington Post)

A Place Where Women Rule
All-Female Village in Kenya Is a Sign Of Burgeoning Feminism Across Africa
By Emily Wax

Washington Post Foreign Service

UMOJA, Kenya -- Seated cross-legged on tan sisal mats in the shade, Rebecca
Lolosoli, matriarch of a village for women only, took the hand of a frightened
13-year-old girl. The child was expected to wed a man nearly three times her
age, and Lolosoli told her she didn't have to.

The man was Lolosoli's brother, but that didn't matter. This is a patch of
Africa where women rule. "You are a small girl. He is an old man," said Lolosoli,
who gives haven to young girls running from forced marriages.
"Women don't have to put up with this nonsense anymore."

Ten years ago, a group of women established the village of Umoja, which means
unity in Swahili, on an unwanted field of dry grasslands. The women said they
had been raped and, as a result, abandoned by their husbands, who claimed they
had shamed their community.

Stung by the treatment, Lolosoli, a charismatic and self-assured woman with a
crown of puffy dark hair, decided no men would be allowed to live in their
circular village of mud-and-dung huts.
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