Umoja Village, Samburu County, Kenya — Rosalina Learpoora has always been surrounded by women.
At age 18, she lives in an all-women village in northern Kenya, where she spends her evenings doing homework, fetching firewood or beading colorful jewelry.
Learpoora has called Umoja home since she was 3. There, a group of 48 women live with their children in huts protected by thorny brush to keep away intruders. When a man trespasses, they notify the local police, who either issue a warning or arrest the culprit -- depending on the number of offenses.
The village was started in 1990 by 15 women
who became stigmatized in their communities after they were raped by British soldiers
from a base at nearby Archer's Post, a trading center bordering Samburu and Isiolo. Some of the rape survivors say their husbands accused them of bringing dishonor to their families and kicked them out. They found a piece of land, moved there and named it Umoja -- Swahili for unity.
It has since grown into a refuge, welcoming women escaping abusive marriages, female genital mutilation, rape and other forms of assault. Even some women whose husbands died have found solace and a home there.
She fled there to escape genital mutilation
Learpoora never met her father -- she was told he died when she was 3. Terrified that her extended family would force her to undergo female