Most women in Samburu district have experienced some form of spousal abuse. Many of these experiences occur within relationships, due a woman's vastly subordinate role in society. In particular, since a man pays a dowry for his wife, many men view and treat women as a form of property to treat as they please. For many women then, beatings and abuse are typical of everyday life. As the majority of women lack knowledge of their rights, such abuse is accepted as the norm and goes unreported. In addition, local police do not always take reported cases seriously because they also view such behaviour as routine.
Many of Umoja's members have suffered abuse at the hands of their husbands, and for this reason fled them. By living together in a self-declared gender-based violence-free village, women are collectively safer. While some men come to Umoja to attempt to abuse the wives who have left them, the women in the village have the power to stop this, and in fact chase the men out themselves. Further, it is perceived as less shameful for a group than an individual to report a beating. Umoja's members go to the police on behalf of women who have been assaulted, and attempt to educate the men who initiate such violence. More broadly, Umoja works to educate women about their rights, and to empower women by assisting them in becoming less dependent on their husbands and thus more capable of demanding equal status.