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May 12th, 2011
10:50 PM ET

In Kenya, traditional beads that bring suffering for girls

The Samburu tribe in Kenya is known throughout the country for its lavish beaded adornments.  The tribe is poor, so these pieces of jewelry are quite valuable to the community.  But their significance isn't just monetary.

In one tradition of the Samburu, a male family member will place these beads around the neck of a young girl in the tribe.  According to tradition, the man is then permitted to have sex with the girl.  It is something that has gone on for as long as the people of the Samburu tribe can remember.  And stories of hidden pregnancies, and violent abortions aren't uncommon in this part of the country.

David McKenzie went to visit the Samburu with an activist who is working to stop this practice.

Filed under: backstory • Interviews
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Gladwell

    The story is great.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. peter

    Wow! Am a kenyan an don't even know that this is happening...sad!

    May 13, 2011 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. val

    this is a callous culture that has no regard for the female child.what kind of culture would hold its people to such ransome.does it address the issue of marriage.this is not fair at all and its a modern day sex slavery.

    May 13, 2011 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jodi

    Do your research people! This is NOT the meaning of beading AND this does NOT happen in Samburu. I myself have been to Samburu more than once. I lived, worked closely with and even cared for the Samburu people and NEVER witnessed anything like this. In fact, The Samburu community love and care for all within their community. It's "the outsiders", some Kenyan, some from other countries who have and continue to hurt them just like this article is trying to do!!! It makes me sick to my stomach. Perhaps these so called girls who are pregnant out of wedlock or by a relative are in fact much older than you're saying and or are pregnant be "an outsider" raping her. That is what really goes on! The government is supposed to protect them but instead forces them into such a vulnerable state then rapes and or hurts them; this is THE TRUTH and there is much proof that this has gone on. How can a Samburu women give birth to a 1/2 Asian or Caucasian child, hmmm????? The Samburu people are very sensitive, smart and hard working. Their culture, that they believe in and live by, makes nothing but sense. If only we could all stand up for what we believe in. It's a damn same that they continue to be punished, some even killed for just simply trying to survive. Look more closely into what is and has been going on in Samburu over the last few years (perhaps longer) and you will be SHOCKED at what you find. We need to help and support these people or simply leave them alone and allow them continue living their lives, happily like they deserve!

    May 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taeko

      Tanzaniais the best place for a safari as it has the Ngorongoro its the best plcaes every to see lions too its also crater is also a natural wonderSerengeti is also a nice place were you would see a lot of cats familymanyara is a nice place too with lots or flamingyou could always get nice hotels and nice package deals there are 5 star hotels too.

      August 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Catie

    Jodi, thanks for shedding some light on the subject. Is it mostly tourists that do this and take advantage of young girls? Why would CNN try to mislead people?

    May 17, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mona

      Hi. Im a Samburu Kenyan and I can conform that beading exists, right in the villge. I only managed tp escape the beding because my Aunty, not my mother, my aunty helped me scape a 3am at night. I cannot even begn to tll you ghe horros of what my cousins, firends, sisters have been put through. To even talk about this within the family as negtive is taboo, o report about it is taboo and o have somenone ven say that it does not exist, is like raping the gilrs one more time. The world needs to know what he Samburu and Maasai gairls have to endure. We love our families, but it is not right to foce an under age to have sex with an adult, in Europe, Africa or US. It is a crime which needs t be stopped,

      August 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ansar

        Really enjoying this blog. Having been there so many times, didn't except to learn new stuff, but never knew all the doors to the house faced either Mount Kenya or Mount Nyero. Look forward to the next one.

        August 27, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. philo

    I find your comment so sincere and moving. Thank you for sharing. Sexual abuse and those hush hush things in families ... and I understand what you mean... need to be spoken out abut. If not they enchain people for ages. It is not only the Maasai who do these things. We must act! Thanks Mona.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eagle

    There are no words to dscriebe how bodacious this is.

    August 17, 2011 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mile

    Beautiful snapshots of an aazimng country. I'm woefully undertraveled when it comes to Africa I've only ever been to Rwanda and South Africa (and Morocco if you count that, which I don't) but I'm excited to see Ghana this fall and what I think/hope will be another true slice of African culture.

    August 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shopping Online in Kenya

    It's really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    December 25, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |