In the grasslands of Samburu in Northern Kenya lies a village known as Umoja. An intriguing fact about this village is that it is inhabited by only women. Men are not allowed into Umoja for reasons that go far back into the origin of the village. Umoja village was created in 1990 as a sanctuary for 15 women who had survived sexual assault and rape by British soldiers. Today, it has grown to give shelter, livelihood and a new life to any and all women trying to escape genital mutilation, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, child marriage or any form of abuse. The women of Umoja along with their children have created an economy for themselves. They run a campsite for safari tourists, and charge an entrance fee for tourists to visit the village. Within the village, the women make colourful beaded necklaces, bangles, anklets and other jewellery in the craft centre which are put up for sale. The older women also talk to the younger ones about social evils like female genital mutilation, forced abortions, etc, which they have escaped from. They have also built a school on the Umoja women’s land, and it’s open to the nearby villages as well. When their male children reach the age of 18, they are made to leave the village. Also, the women can leave the village anytime they want. The women do not lead an isolated existence. They go out into neighboring villages, markets, schools. The Umoja women have managed to build themselves a safe haven where they can lead a life of respect, away from the trauma women all over the world are exposed to. CTA: Should there be more places like Umoja?
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