Umoja Usao, a village in Kenya is a land of ladies, where there is a strict no entry board for the men.
Umoja is now considered as a safe haven for 47 women and 200 children who escaped from living under a patriarchal system like child marriages, domestic violence, rape, genital mutilation etc.
Not only from their own people, the women over there face rape attacks from the British soldiers too. Generally, these attacks take place when women go out of their villages for water or wood. The women are not even allowed to talk about the attacks, as their own husbands physically hurt them and also abandon later. It is this reason that most of the women with no option left decide to run away from the families and reside in Umoja, considering it as a safe place for women.
In the village, women enjoy the much needed freedom like building their own homes and taking care of the children. They sell jewelry to the tourists and is thus the main source of income for them. If they become financially sound, they would even run a school on their own, to not only let their children get educated, but also others.
Speaking about the safety precautions, Umoja women said that they would stay awake by rotating shifts all night and day and thus keep each other safe.
The unmarried girls in Umoja are strictly away from marriage. But for the desire of having children, such young girls have boyfriends from other villages and decide to have children they can raise on their own with complete freedom. Young unmarried boys from the neighboring villages can enter into Umoja, as long as they agree and abide by the rules.
Rebecca Lolosoli is the founder of Umoja village. She is an advocate for women’s rights. The concept of Umoja has threatened a strict patriarchy that has been in Kenya for more than 500 years. Umoja village is a first brave step towards fight for the land of equality. The women here enjoy the freedom and are using it as a weapon against the abuses they have suffered.