Bound for Marriage as a Child, Now a Change Agent for Kenyan Girls

Kakenya Ntaiya is challenging tradition in her country through her all-girls boarding school.

Kakenya Ntaiya sought a life far different than the path marked for girls in her tiny rural Kenyan village of Enoosaen.

Like many Maasai girls, Ntaiya’s future was mapped by cultural tradition: marital engagement at age five, followed by a circumcision as a teen, a painful rite of passage that would mark the end of her formal education and lead to marriage and children.

Refusing to accept her fate, she told her father she would agree to be circumcised, but only if she could finish high school and continue her education, threatening to run away and disgrace her family. After acquiescing to the painful coming-of-age ceremony, she was able to extricate herself from an early marriage and then negotiated with village elders,

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