There are others [here in Kenya] who really practice FGM [female genital mutilation]. I really feel like it’s a dishonor to our women. Especially the fact that it’s only based on pleasing demand. Yeah, it’s really toxic. I’ve met a few of my friends who had undergone FGM in high school. Especially people from the Maasai tribe, Nandi tribe and Kisii tribe. They go through that at a very young age. After that they will just marry those girls off. If, let’s say, they were not smart, they’d just get married off.

It’s really so sad that these women have to endure that pain because it’s more of shaming our sexuality. Because we have a higher, they say it, we have a higher sexuality which needs to be tamed. Yet it’s the men who are marrying two wives, three wives. Come on, you guys. You’re mixing your messages.
For me, I really don’t agree with FGM. I’ve actually been an advocate for that. When they hold walks, I have to participate, especially if I have the time or the opportunity. I think it should, it has been eradicated in many communities, but some still practice. I think it’s so sad.

But on the dowry, I’d say some cultures, they justify it. They say that they’ve raised their girl for so long, and now they are going to be in another family. What are you leaving for us? They would exaggerate. Like my dad’s side. My dad’s side is the Luhya. They would ask for a lot of cows. Twelve cows, male and female, goats, and then hens. You’re like, “Is this guy a millionaire? Why are you asking for all these things?”

Then it actually has brought a lot of breaking in marriages. Because after your husband gives out the dowry, now they act like they own you. It’s like you are a property to them. Even the family will feel like now you’re ours. We can do anything with you. Even in the case where you end up having violence in the family, you can’t go back.

They’ll be like, “Me, I’ve eaten these cows that they gave me. How are you coming back? I can’t repay the dowry.” They would actually disown their children. Even their own kids, their daughter, if they had kids, they would also be disowned just because they gave dowry.

It’s such a shallow way of thinking about marriage. It’s so sad. But I think in our church we’ve started talking about it. Once the conversations starts, people are awakened into understanding that this is not a property. Your daughter is also not a property. You can’t sell her for a bunch of cows. It’s not barter trade. I think it’s getting better.

Jessica Masibo