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Greetings from the Coexist Initiative in Nairobi Kenya. Please allow us to share with you a story about a practice that is destroying the lives of thousands of Samburu girls in northern Kenya. Beads are a part and parcel of Samburu community life for generations. The practice is normally initiated by parents around puberty, but possibly earlier but exploited by Morans (warriors) who use the practice to cause numerous vulnerabilities to girls as young as ten.
Beading allows a Moran (warrior) to buy a girl he fancies from his clan, basically a family member and places beads on her neck. This acts as a sign of ‘engagement’. He is allowed to have sex with her. However, he cannot marry her, and they must not have a child. When the girl gets pregnant, her mother and fellow clan women conduct crude abortions. The women press the girl’s abdomen with their elbows until the foetus dies. The young mothers to be almost always die, or they get life threatening complications like excessive bleeding, sepsis, and fistula. Others never conceive again. When they carry the pregnancy to term and give birth, the child is killed using a concoction of tobacco and dangerous herbs.