Keshia Clukey

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Women find a voice, struggle with keeping culture

Posted by keshiaclukey on May 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Women find a voice, struggle with keeping culture

BY KESHIA CLUKEY

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UTICA - Lul Mohamed has six kids with a seventh on the way.

"Children are a gift from God, you can't stop having them," said the 34-year-old.

Mohamed is Somali Bantu. She moved to Utica in 2004 after living in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Already knowing English when she came here, she and now works as an interpreter for the Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters in Utica

The Somali Bantu culture is much different from American culture when it comes to women.

Women wear coverings and can't be seen without them by men other than those in their immediate family-something Mohamed wants her daughters to do.

Handshakes with a man-not allowed.

Boys and girls sitting together in school is a definite no.

And birth control is unheard of.

In Somali Bantu culture the more children you have, the more honor you can give your husband, Mohamed said.

Women start having children and don't stop until they can't have them anymore.

Mohamed herself is one of 13 kids.

But now, the second generation of Somali Bantu refugees in the community say they will only have two or three children, Mohamed said.

Here the women are finding a voice and in some cases, questioning their culture. She said.

Girls are going on dates now and stating aloud when they think a man is handsome, Mohamed said. "I think we will lose that culture."

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