Unique fertility treatment: women marrying women


Fifty years ago, Elizabeth Chemesunde Olekima after ten years of a childless marriage did something most of us would consider bizarre and counter intuitive: she divorced her husband and married several women in order to secure a family with children.

The Nandi culture of Western Africa allows an infertile woman to marry another woman to have children with her husband or the man of her choice. It’s a committed form of surrogacy which has been around for generations.

In the early 1970s, Elizabeth found a wife, paid a dowry and started living with her. She then negotiated with three other women to ensure a successful and fruitful union. It’s not common for a woman to marry that many women, but the elders in her village approved. “I wanted to marry so that I can have children to maintain our family lineage,” she says.

Her first wife cost seven cows. “The same was done for my second, third and fourth wives. I paid their parents, five and seven cows respectively,” she explained.

Her family has withstood some drama. Her first wife eloped (with a man). Another died. But she is still happily joined with two wives and has eight children. By seeking this type of arrangement, Elizabeth is respected in the role of breadwinner and traditional “husband”.

According to Nandi customs, Elizabeth can choose men for her wives. She looked for suitable men for her wives to have children with. The men cannot claim these children as they belong to Elizabeth. All of the wives have separate homes and at 87 years old, Elizabeth is not worried about the health of her family. Two of her sons are married and the youngest is in seventh grade.

Traditions like this one are also practiced in Abagusii and Kuria communities also in Kenya.

Source: The Standard


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