3 Amazing Facts About the Village That Banned Men
By Danica Lo
In the village of Umoja, which is situated in northern Kenya, live 47 women and 200 children — with zero men.
In fact, men have been banned from the village — by and large because Umoja was founded as a safe community for women who'd been raped, or sexually abused, or fled from bad marriages. An amazing article in the Guardian this weekend profiled Umoja — and some of its brave inhabitants. Here are three things we learned from the story.
The feminist Umoja village in the Samburu region of northern Kenya in May 2008. Leader of the community is Rebecca Lolosoli. She has banded together groups of disenfranchised Samburu women, who have been abandoned by their husbands and communities and has made a refuge for women running from abuse, early marriage, and female genital mutilation. (Photo by Kitra Cahana/Getty Images)
Basic demographics: Founded in 1990 by more than a dozen women who were raped by "local British soldiers" stationed in their regions, Umoja is now home to nearly 50 women and hundreds of children. Many of these women have been raped and were turned out by their families. The village is self-supporting — the women make crafts and jewelry, which are sold to tourists.
The women work with surrounding villages to educate girls: They talk to young girls in their own community and in surrounding communities — where girls are often married off at a young age — about sex, early marriage, and female genital mutilation. "If a girl is married at an early age, that girl will not be a competent parent," the head of the Umoja school told the Guardian. "Giving birth they face a lot of challenges: They rupture, they bleed, because they are young."
Women in Umoja have sex and children on their own terms: Just in case that 47 women to 200 children population statistic seems a little wild to you, don't worry—the Guardian thought it was a interesting too. So the writer asked. "We still like men," one Umoja resident told the writer. "They are not allowed here, but we want babies and women have to have children, even if you are unmarried."
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Photo Credit: Kitra Cahana/Getty Images