Kenyan Activists Try to End the Tradition of “Rape Beading”

“Josephine” is 12 years old and several months pregnant.

She’s a member of the Samburu tribe, living in a small village in a remote part of Isiolo in Kenya’s Eastern Province. The pre-teen, whose identity is being protected, claims she had sex with a relative — a rape sanctioned by the Samburu, through a practice called “beading.”

Intricate beaded necklaces are a symbol of the Kenyan nation. But to young Samburu girls, the necklaces are a symbol not of national pride, but something much darker, that can lead to rape, unwanted pregnancies — and even the deaths of newborns, according to activist Josephine Kulea and the Samburu tribe itself.

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