KENYA, FEBRUARY 2022
The first village was established in the 1990s by women who had been driven from their homes because they had been raped and thus brought dishonor to the house. Today, a multitude of villages run exclusively by women have sprung up nearby.
Most often assaulted by their husbands, these women have gathered in villages where men are not allowed to live.
Very patriarchal, Samburu society traditionally marries its daughters, who are still very young, to men over thirty years old, the age at which they will have finished fulfilling their role as warrior protectors of the village. At the center of household life, women are responsible for caring for livestock, building the house, cooking, and other household tasks. Of the women we met, all told us that they had been beaten with a cane by their husbands.
Because of the proximity of Archer’s Post town, women can go directly to the police in cases of violence, forced marriage, or female circumcision, undermining the authority of the elders, an all-male council that maintains customary authority in Samburu society.
The creation of these matriarchal villages contributes to the evolution of traditions structuring the social order, as the elders must now take into consideration the demand for women’s emancipation.