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Judicial CP - December 2017

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Citizen News, Kenya, 25 December 2017

Randy married men in Baringo whipped in public

By Evans Chuma
for Citizen Digital

Village gathering
Pokot residents

A 32-year-old man is paraded in public before a bench of judges made up of village elders in Baringo. He is here to be charged and sentenced. His crime, having an affair with a 56-year-old man's wife.

Before the ceremony can begin, the suspect produces a he-goat which is slaughtered and offered as a meal to the judges tasked with delivering the verdict. This, in an urban setting, would be considered a sitting allowance.

Welcome to life according to the Pokot in Baringo. This is nothing new, they have been meting out punishment to randy married men for years.

Men found guilty of cheating on their wives with the spouses of other men in the Pokot community are liable for punishment by whipping from the elders and a fine of goats and cows.

The randy man before the court gets his charges read out aloud. Together with the woman he is accused of cheating with, they are presented with the judgement, which they both accept.

He is accused of luring the woman with a local brew when her husband was away before seducing her.

The eldest in the bench then offers cleansing in the form of prayer to show acceptance of forgiveness and a renewed life.

But before he can be forgiven, he has to be punished first; six cows, six goats and six strokes of the cane or Sita Sita as it is popularly known in the area.

The judges are a mix of old and young; there is an elderly man who commands respect and whose role is "to cleanse the offender", there are middle aged men whose role is to provide the strokes; and about two other men tasked with providing the ruling.

The cows and goats are presented to the aggrieved man after which the offender and victim shake hands before going their separate ways.

Having solved the case, the judges now resort to partaking the local brew and making merry all the while heaping praise on themselves on their execution of the case.

This form of punishment, according to Ripkor MCA Daniel Tuit, curbs the aspect of immorality in the community as many fear the public embarrassment and hefty fines it comes with. He urges other communities to embrace this form of punishment to avoid acts such as killing one another due to infidelity.

The Pokot believe the bride price they pay of 60 goats and 10 cows and camels gives them exclusive ownership of the wife.

As men migrate with their cattle leaving behind their wives and children during times of drought, and knowing it will take them at least five months to get back, rituals are done either by beating his shoes on the ground or by asking his wife to jump across a lighted fire. This is to ensure the wife remains faithful.

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