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Inspiration
Meet the Maasai girl who ran from home to become first lawyer
By Robert Kiplagat | Updated Apr 01, 2018 at 15:52 EAT
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Josphine Rotiken ran away from home
SUMMARY
  • 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.

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