The following update was provided by Agnes Pareyio, Founder of the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative and the V-Day Safe House for the Girls. She is also a One Billion Rising and V-Day Activist.
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Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative is a community-based organization in the southern Rift Valley in Narok County, Kenya. “Tasaru Ntomonok” simply means “rescue” in the maa language. Our mission is to initiate positive behavioral change and attitudinal change within and towards women. We do this by sensitizing the community to better appreciate the value that girls’ education holds and to also respect the rights of girls.
Like most African communities, the Maasai community is closely bound by deep-rooted cultural traditions. Tasaru was started in September 1999 to provide a safety net for girls running away from the practices of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and EFCM (Early Forced Childhood Marriage) which are rampant cultural practices in the Maasai community.
Each year, with V-Day support, Tasaru is able to ensure that girls are protected from further harassment, that their rights and integrity are respected, and that they are educated so that they can take control of their futures. I am so pleased to share an update on our recent work with you:
Over the last period, sixty-four girls resided at the safe house. This being the peak season for the practice of FGM, seventeen girls we served had run away from FGM/EFCM. Most of them have been reconciled back with their families through the Department of the Children.
Five girls have successfully completed four years of secondary education. These girls have already been reunited with their families.
We have more girls graduating from primary school and joining high school. In 2016, seven of our rescued girls did their primary education examination and performed very well. Tasaru is in process of taking them to form one.
Tasaru is supporting the education of fifty five girls.
Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP)
One hundred girls between the ages of 12- 16 years took part in a six day training from December 13 – 16. Through the session, they graduated into adulthood without the cut. The ceremony was graced by the county director of the Department of Children and was attended by leaders from the county and other invited guests. The director promised to work hand in hand with Tasaru to improve the wellbeing of the girl child in Narok County.
The community is slowly appreciating the alternative rite of passage for their daughters. This is evidenced as was witnessed in November 2016, where a family in one of our areas voluntarily took two of his daughters through the ARP.
During this period, Tasaru successfully reconciled four girls with their families. Among the reconciled girls were two sisters who escaped FGM narrowly six years ago. See the attached link: Hope Uncut: Girl circumcision still practised in Maasai community
Challenges and Successes
More girls are running away from EFCM and FGM and the community is slowly appreciating the alternative rite of passage without the cut as an option. More cases of FGM and EFCM are being reported and prosecuted. This is as a result of the existence of the Department of Public Prosecution in every county, which addresses these issues. Additionally, our work is making an impact. However challenges remain. Cutting continues and girls are coached by the community and families on what to say if they come into contact with authorities.
ARP training session
Mercy and Agnes at reconciliation
LEARN more about Agnes and this locally led work to end violence against women and girls: