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Literature Review

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women’s sexual and reproductive health, retrogressive cultural practices, Samburu beading practice, negative impacts of cultural practices, Kenyan pastoralist culture and traditions


Gender inequalities stemming from deeply rooted cultural practices negatively affect the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of East-African women and girls, particularly in the extremely patriarchal Kenyan pastoralist community of Samburu. This report describes secondary research and existing literature review with a focus on the cultural practice known as beading. The practice of beading in the Samburu community remains one of the worst silent contemporary forms of sexual exploitation. It can be briefly described as a community-sanctioned, non-marital sexual relationship between men in the warrior age group, and prepubescent girls who are not yet eligible to be married. This research explores perceptions, implications and impacts of beading concerning gender equity and SRH in terms of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs while examining channels that have been used to assist and support beaded girls and Samburu women to determine how effective they have been in creating cultural change. Existing prevention and intervention strategies currently in place are few and require considerable scaling. This study suggests cultural and gender-sensitive responses to bring increased awareness to and stop harmful sexual and reproductive practices. Areas for further research are discussed, including the scantly documented and rarely discussed psychological trauma experienced by beaded Samburu women and girls as well as the need for more rigorous community-driven, multi-pronged approaches to address transforming retrogressive cultural practices and, consequently, the SRH of Samburu women and girls.


Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.