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Homelessness of Luo Girl Child

In the Luo community of Kenya, I have helplessly watched with my naked eyes as teenage girls become rendered homeless and no longer do their life remain the same.
In this community, the boys are allowed by the tradition to build their huts where they could bring their girl friends and later on marry. As for the girls at puberty, they are considered "strangers" in their father's homes as at this age they can get married off, in other words, they no longer belong to the father but the husband to be.
While the boys have their own huts within the father's compound, the girls becomes "wanderers." They are expected to sleep at grandmother's house (if she's alive) or at brother's house. If these options are not available, they can sort refuge from the neighbour's homes.
The modern families of today have changed especially those living in the urban centres. It is however a fact that most rural communities in the Luoland are poor and still hold onto such traditions in their villages.
My concern is the sense of insecurity and non-belonging to your very family that sets in when a girl is at her puberty. For instance, there is a girl who was born in one of the poor families in the village. She survived all the hurdles and went through primary and secondary education successfully. We met in college and became friends and that's when she shared her story with me. Right now, she is always depressed knowing that she no longer belong to her father's home. It is even more evident when she visited home one of the holidays, she had to go around brothers houses to request for space where she could sleep. Not being lucky, she had to walk around seeking space from the neighbours. It's about two years now, she loves her parents very much especially the mother but the thought of being treated like a stranger in her very parents home keeps her away from visiting. I know she cries so often because of this situation, just how much she misses her mother yet circumstances don't favour her.
In such scenarios, a young lady not prepared for marriage may just give in to it for the sake of having a sense of belonging and making a family of your own where you can feel secure, loved and protected without actually being in love with the man you are marrying which is however the essence of marriage.
I wish that something could be done to save such young adults from the pain of loosing sense of family simply for being a girl, developing depression and as a result, other complicated health risks.

Edwina Auma.

Comments

irene waithaka's picture

Hallo Edwina, that is so

Hallo Edwina,
that is so unfair you know i cn imagine enduring the hustle of going home for the holidays only to get to such an ugly situation you regret ever coming,
such traditions limits girls to their human rights and the new constitution even legalises the scenario where girls r entitled to inheriting property frm their fathers,
judging from your concerns i imagine this is going to be totally difficult in your county and i recommend you seek for funds to conduct an advocacy campaign for a sense of belonging for the girl child in her fathers household as to it would go along way in enlightening the community.
Besides that it would also emphasize that ignorance is no defence if a girl was fed up n decided to take such a situation as an infringement to her right in a court of law.
All the best and please take it upon yourself to act and be the voice of that luo girl child that is not gauranteed of a home come tomorrow.

EDWINA AUMA JUMA's picture

Thank you Irene.

Your comment is very insightful dear. The challenge is that it has been a tradition that nobody wishes to think otherwise about it. Besides, the girls facing the homelessness are teenagers whose self esteem to voice out their concerns have been suppressed by poverty. They feel insignificant in making any decisions. Remember this happens among very poor families.
The new constitution gives right of inheritance of father's property by the girls but this don't favour the poor families that have nothing to inherit to begin wth.
Thank you, I am positive that change is coming soon, the situation must change very soon. It will involve nurturing self esteem among the girls, among other things.

''Our actions are moral to the extent that ourselves chose them''

dove ashley's picture

VERY CARING EDWINA

cultures vary across Africa and other continents. in some cultures girls no matter how old have a place in their fathers houses until a marriage rite has been performed by a man who is willing to have her as a wife and it goes far on in case of divorce that a girl is still welcomed home by her family even after a divorce or break-up from her husband.
but i agree that times are changing or have changed and such girls will find a way or through help overcome this trauma.family is important and no one should be torn away from family except by reason of choice. where there is a will there will certainly be a way.
i appreciate you as a dear woman for sharing and speaking out on this issue affecting your friend,you have proven to be family to her by your care. God bless you

EDWINA AUMA JUMA's picture

YES ASHLEY.

Time is changing, culture is no exception especially when the girls are victimized for being "girls." If anything, no one chooses their sex nor their parents and a family where to belong.

''Our actions are moral to the extent that ourselves chose them''

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