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.