This year I visited an amazingly brave group of Luo women who have come together to fight forced ‘sexual cleansing’. This old Luo ritual requires women to have sex – often with strangers – when their husbands die.
The tradition is not widespread, but for this group of women it is a reality. Refusing to take part could mean losing your children or your property. And so, many do not have a choice.
The men who “cleanse” them are sometimes HIV-positive and do not use protection, as Pamela explains in the video (link at top and below).
Here we see the beginnings of a feminist revolution. Women who are beginning to talk about the practise, raise awareness and create change.
For these women, ‘sexual cleansing’ has been a normality for years. It’s all they’ve ever known and been taught. Now, Roseline, who leads group therapy sessions, says she sees women ‘waking up’ daily to a new reality, one which they are creating from scratch.
I left these women also feeling more ‘awake’, wondering which parts of my own life I considered to be ‘normal’, based on what society has led me to believe. Roseline calls it ‘un-learning everything we have been taught’.
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