- This is the story of Josphine Rotiken, a Maasai girl who ran away from home to become a lawyer
A typical Maasai girl was traditionally viewed as a source of wealth for the father in form of bride price. At a tender age, they used to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) making them ‘women’ ripe for marriage.
It was a culture that must be adhered but one woman Josphine Rotiken defied it and chose education.
This was not however handed to her on a silver platter but a struggle that she tells The Nairobian.
Who is Josphine?
She is a Maasai girl born in Olkurto 23 years ago, a law graduate from Kabarak University and an escapee of early forced child marriage.
How did you escape?
In 2008, I was 12 years old. I had just done my KCPE at Ilpolton Primary School when I was tipped off by a neighbor that my ‘marriage’ ceremony was being planned. The news prompted me to hatch a plan to escape from home. I had already undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at an early age when I was defenseless and so according to the Maasai customs, I was ‘ripe’ for marriage. But I rejected my father’s suitor.
What was your father’s reaction after you refused to marry his 33-year-old friend?
He was furious. He had already received the bride price. I was, however, lucky to have been rescued at House of Hope Rescue Center in Narok where I got an opportunity to continue my education.He was furious. He had already received the bride price. I was, however, lucky to have been rescued at House of Hope Rescue Center in Narok where I got an opportunity to continue my education.
Did your father give up?
No. I remember when I was almost finishing my Form Four exam at Kenyatta High School they came with my perspective ‘husband’ wanting to marry me off, but luckily I noticed them from far and hid. That is when I informed my teacher who told them that I was not around.
Why did you choose to study law?
When my father wanted to marry me off I took him to the Children’s Office where I argued my case against him and won. This gave me the passion to fight for my rights and those of others who are being oppressed.
Now with a degree, how did your father feel?
My father was a ‘proud’ father of a Lawyer. He was remorseful to me for what he did to me saying he was ignorant. I have already forgiven him.
What next for you?
I want to be a competent human rights Lawyer and a role model to all Maasai girls.
Your advice to parents in pastoral areas who are yet to embrace girl-child education?
Let them shun retrogressive cultural practices and give girls child an equal opportunity in life by taking them to school.
Do you have stories, videos or pictures you would like to share with the world?
Simply click on Post Your Story button placed at the top of the website