Masai worriers on the rampage for prides

30 Mar

Masai worriers on the rampage for prides

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By Wanjala Wafula

The media in the East Africa region has in the recent past been a wash with stories of some sadistic Masai worriers (morans as they are called) who have been going on rampages as they invade schools and other institutions of learning for purposes of abducting young girls. They invaded Enkare Nairowua girl’s school on Friday claiming that “life had become difficult for them in their shanties and that they had come to ‘pick” their wives”. The nation newspaper unveiled that the Morans were repulsed by the administration police with support from the locals. The paper adds that the girls in the school now live in fear as many of them had been rescued from previously arranged marriages. In general, seven abduction attempts have been reported in the last one month only.

It is also reported that the Morans barricaded a road in the county and threatened to seize any young girls using the road. It is reported that it took a combined effort of the police and regular security agents to repulse the aggressive worriers. Numerous analysts now point a finger at a dysfunctional cultural rite of passage that only delegated the role of protecting the Masai community to the worriers. Shockingly, gender experts in the region accuse the community leadership structures who they accuse of complacency and of mutely allowing the morans to do as they wish.

In the midst of all this, many of us remain steadfast and dedicated to ending child marriage and abductions which are two harmful traditional practices that affects tens of thousands of girls each year. This is a call to all people and especially men and boys to join together so as to hasten efforts to thwart child marriage and support girls who are or have been married or under threat of being married.

I humbly request all people to magnify the voices of girls in danger of child marriage and protect the rights of girls to health, education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We cannot afford to allow the sadistic morans to run amok and wreck the lives of young girls. We cannot let young school going girls endure the terror and distress presently being meted on them by those resolute to live in the past. We ought to help positively transform the rites of passage and liberate those who may fall victim to the same. My stand is guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and I hold the view that the minimum age of marriage for boys and girls should be eighteen years and subject to consent by the girls.

I believe societal transformation cannot succeed without community engagement and this is where all people of good will must stand up to be counted. We must work together to augment and fortify efforts to end child marriage at community, local, national and global levels. We cannot let the adversaries of gender parity reverse the gains so far made. This is how I propose we move forward. Let rigorous awareness raising efforts emerge targeting traditions and customs that encourage the perpetuation of child marriages and abductions. Let’s promote open, comprehensive and informed dialogue at the community, local and national levels. Let us facilitate learning and harmonization between organizations working to end child marriage and mobilize all necessary policy, financial and other support to end the vice.

On an optimistic note, gender based violence prevention programs are beginning to emerge throughout the East Africa region. They represent a growing body of experience and show that through prevention efforts aimed at changing the attitudes and behaviors perpetuating GBV in homes, schools and communities so that the places can be safer for everyone. Many of the prevention efforts within the region are relatively new and are challenged to develop solid and effective prevention programs. Currently, there tends to be little sharing of information and experiences among stakeholders.

There are bleakly very few opportunities to learn from others and only a handful of programmatic tools published to help guide efforts. As such, innovative ideas, effective responses and valuable experiences tend to remain in the hearts and minds of those who have been the driving force behind them, while in the next community or the neighbouring vicinity, colleagues struggle with similar problems and face similar challenges. Therefore, it is important to share experiences, skills and promising practices so as to address commonly encountered challenges. It is also important to discuss responses developed in different parts of the region and compare notes on how relevant and replicable these responses could be. However, few such linkages exist that build on the strengths of each other. It’s my affirmation that a shared approach on matters relating to GBV is handy for accomplishing an extensive range of goals that reach beyond the capacity of any individual organization or person

I humbly submit that human development, if not engendered, is endangered.

The writer is a Programs Director of The Coexist Initiative, a not for profit synergy of men and boys community-based organizations committed to eliminating all forms of Gender based violence, foster HIV prevention and AIDS management in Kenya. Visit http://www.coexistkenya.com

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