Tasaru Refuge

cpic6Feminenza’s visits to Kenya over the last few years unwrapped a side of African culture which we had somehow managed to forget, overlooked in our fast moving world. They portrayed a world where girls barely entering puberty, some even before that time, are forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation, a process whereby anything from the clitoris, to the entire inner and outer labia are cut off, and the remainder sewn up. FGM is outlawed officially, however the law is not enforced,and it is prevalent in most of Africa.

FGM is itself a pre-cursor to the process of early forced marriage. Many, if not most African girls living in rural settings and under tribal custom, are usually assigned without their consent to marriage. Marriage is often considered to be a trade, whereby the prospective husband stipends the girl’s family in return for being provided with a spouse.

Education is stopped once FGM or marriage is being contemplated by the child’s parents, partly because of the tradition that once the girl is married off, parental responsibility has ceased, and partly because of the attitude that women do not need education: their place is to look after the home, tend to the husband, and breed.

Agnes Pareiyo (UN Person of the year) and Christopher Tasaru have worked for many years to establish the Tasaru Rescue Centre, in Narok, Kenya. One of only a few rescue centres dotted around Africa, it is funded entirely out of private donations, and the efforts of the Centre’s staff in fund raising.

The main purpose of Give a Girl a Chance in Africa is to provide microfunding for such rescue centres. The fund offers grants to girls rescued from forced marriage – sometimes paying off the marriage ransom as cattle or capital, thence to cover the cost of the remaining education and mentoring, the cost of a roof over their heads: providing respite and enabling the girls to be educated, to discover themselves, and to grow into women, intact, many of whom are then able to go onto university and make a contribution to society. Once the girl is able to earn a living, her duty is to become a new donor to the Fund, playing an active role in rescuing the next girl along the line.

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