An investigative documentary by Al Jazeera in Kuria, Migori County brought to light a tradition that isn’t known to many Kenyans, that allows same-sex marriage.
Nyumba mboke, a practice which allows for woman-to-woman unions have been taking place in the area for decades, despite the fact that gay marriage is criminalised in Kenya.
However, it’s not a bed of roses as the young women who were interviewed shared tales of abuse and suffering on a heartbreaking scale.
A teenager only identified as Boke, stated that she had been forced to abandon her education as she was married off to Pauline Gati (an elderly widow who had no children).
While balancing tears, she narrated how she accidentally got pregnant out of wedlock at a young age and soon after was forced to undergo the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation before being wedded off for 4 cows, to the elderly Gati.
“My father later sold the cows and went for a drinking spree and never gave my mother any money from that. He later died,” she divulged.
The report claimed that such stories of FGM and arranged same-sex marriages were the norm in the highly secluded Kenyan community that borders Tanzania.
On her part, Gati explained that her husband died and left her with no children after they had lived together for many years.
“I was facing a lot of stigma from the community and was advised to get a young woman to help me get children,” she disclosed.
Gati also claimed that the men responsible for the pregnancies under same-sex marriages were allowed to walk away free from any responsibilities.
A chief in the area, Sammy Chacha, confirmed that nyumba mboke marriages had wreaked havoc on the community.
The government official stated that they had initiated several workshops to educate the locals on the illegality of the practice as well as advocating for adoption in case of families.