Nakapi came from a wealthy family. At seven years old when she still had her milk teeth, her father forced her to marry his herds boy.
A few years later, they moved away from the area and that was when the beatings started. Her husband drank heavily and beat her most evenings. Initially, she tried to return to her father for safety but he sent her away saying she that she must be loyal to her husband. Nakapi endured the abuse for several years. Pregnant with her first child at just thirteen years old, her husband beat her and sat on her stomach, causing her to miscarry.
Over the next few years she had two children with him – both of them girls. By this point her husband had lost all the cattle they owned and their home due to his continual drinking, so they were forced to go and live with his brother. Her brother in law did not like her and pretty soon, whilst her husband was out, the brother demanded that she leave.
She had no choice, and so she took her youngest child and left, afraid of the consequences if she stayed. Her youngest child was just one year old. She started the long journey to her father’s house but after 10km was met by her husband who was very angry that she was leaving. He told her that if she continued to her father’s house he would kill her so she agreed to go back with him. Even then, her husband was so angry he beat Nakapi more than he ever had before – until she was unconscious.
When Nakapi had recovered enough she went to the police station at the first opportunity and asked for help in escaping from her husband as she feared for her life. As is often the case, the police did very little to help (most likely because they were bribed by her husband and his family to stop the case going to court).
Temporarily she returned to her father’s but he did not want her to stay neither; her husband had made it clear that if he kept her and his granddaughter, he must be paid a dowry which her father could not afford. Her father was threatened too and after a few weeks her husband turned up at the house and took Nakapi’s youngest child. Again she went to the police to ask them to help her get her children back. Once again they failed to act.
Over the next few years Nakapi lived with her parents but did not see her children at all. Finally, when her father too started beating her for all the trouble she had caused, she ran away to Kenya; only returning home to her parents after 6 months at the wish of her mother.
Over the next couple of years, Nakapi found a new husband who was very kind to her and together they had a child. However, sadly for Nakapi her troubles did not stop there. In Masaai culture, a woman is expected to stay with her first husband and to leave is considered mortally wrong. Her first husband and his family still felt very much aggrieved and demanded that she go back to him, but Nakapi knew this would mean more beatings for her and refused.
Tragically, this resulted in Nakapi being attacked by a group of 8 or 9 village men including her first husband and half brothers. They relentlessly beat her with their hands and sticks and stripped her of her clothes. They also beat her mother and left her bedridden. Nakapi went to the police and was immediately rushed to hospital.
Although this time the police were willing to take action, they were unable to identify the men who had done this to Nakapi as they were being protected by their own village leaders. It was at this stage that the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) became involved. Maanda (the Director of PWC) worked with the police using her knowledge and links in the communities to help get the men arrested. The men were thrown in jail for two days and then only released on the condition that they signed a statement to say they would not attack Nakapi again. They were also all made to pay a considerable fine in order to secure their release. With PWC’s efforts, the village leaders were persuaded to authorise a special permit that allowed Nakapi to live with the husband of her choice.
Now in her early 20s, Nakapi still has many scars and may always suffer from back problems, but she feels positive about the future.
She is married to a man of her choice, has sole custody of her two children from her first marriage and has another two with her current husband. Nakapi’s new husband treats her well and they live peacefully and happily in Mondorosi vilage. Nakapi is an active member of the women action group in her village and encourages other women to pursue their rights. Alongside keeping livestock, Napaki runs her own small business selling maize and beans on market days.