An Anthropological Perspective Of The Cultural Background On Child Marriages In Rescuing Maasai Girls

The article “Rescuing Maasai Girls”, a cultural analysis of the Maasai culture, provides insight as to why child brides are so widespread. Caroline Archambault examines Esther who was the subject of UNFPA’s article. Archambault talked about Esther’s father, who was an educated man and sent his other children to school. However, he viewed Esther as more of a stay-at home girl. Esther left home to study and when her father realized how well she did academically, they reconciled. The article is reluctant to split everything up into a good-vs.-evil showdown. (In this case, Esther’s father was the villain.) But there are a number of factors that lead to child marriages. Parents’ concern is a prominent element. The article shows how important education is to Kenyans, but resources are limited and schools understaffed. This leads to a high number of dropouts, as well as low success rates for higher education. Even though many parents want to see their children educated, they’re still wary about the school system. Parents may feel more comfortable arranging their children’s marriage than placing trust in a faulty school system. The article emphasizes this importance many times.

This article emphasizes the importance of understanding the culture, values and reasoning behind a decision. This article focuses on ignorance as the main issue. The article focuses on ignorance.

In the first article, it is called for Enkop to undergo a radical change and emancipate and educate all girls. Archambault highlights a few issues in this article. In Kenya, the education system is in a state of flux. In addition to the class sizes of 100 or more students, it is almost impossible for any student to get personal attention from a school teacher. This is due to the fact that there aren’t enough teachers. There are also issues such as students who live far from school, high secondary school costs, gender mixing that can lead to teenage pregnancy, dropouts, or difficulty achieving high test score to advance. It is not enough to provide girls with the means to obtain an education. UNFPA’s article ignores several important education issues. It also fails to consider different perspectives, with parents being the most important. The UNFPA piece assumes girls all have the same problem. They also assume that they are in the same general situation. It is clear that the UNFPA article’s solutions are not specific.

The first time I read it, I was horrified. The article portraying the evil fathers in Enkop made me angry and I wanted to save those girls and give them an education. I was able to change my mind after reading the article. As I learned about the weakened school system, the weak economy, and the job prospects for the daughters, I realized that marriage would be the best choice for the fathers. While some decisions are not successful (like Esther’s), Kenyan parents have more responsibility for the children. All parents do. Maasai have a limited number of options to choose from and different ways to achieve this. Parents may not be perfect, yet they strive to do everything possible to ensure that their children are well-fed. This article helped me realize that children are provided for in different ways by cultures all over the world.

Even after reading the article, I can’t say that child marriages are a good thing. I find it appalling that a 10-year old would marry someone three times her age. The film Rescuing Maasai Girl made me reconsider my own bias and comfort and to consider the lives of these families living in a world of fluctuating education and economy. The only thing for them that’s certain is marriage. The marriage can be a source of stability for daughters, as well as a home, a way to begin a life and a way to build community ties. Marriage is usually the most secure option. The UNFPA did not use this article to evoke emotions in me. In the first article, it was clear that I had to take the opposing view. I was filled with anger, sadness and guilt. After all, the article made me believe I was equally as bad for not opposing child marriages as their fathers. The second report, however, used anthropological reasoning to present background information in a way that was informative and caused the reader’s emotions to be replaced by information. This neutral and controlled reaction allowed me to view child marriages in a positive light. It was a convenient and manageable way to protect children from an uncertain future. The second article sheds light on the situation and reminds readers to understand a culture’s culture before passing judgment on their practices.


  • isabelbyrne

    Isabel Byrne is a 32-year-old blogger and student who resides in the United States. Byrne is an advocate for education and has written extensively on the topic of education reform. Byrne is also a proponent of the use of technology in the classroom and has spoken at numerous conferences on the topic.