Males As Promise Keepers In Society


When a boy or man sees a girl he finds attractive or even seems inviting, he must ask himself this VERY important question.

“If I am with this girl and she gets pregnant, would I be willing to be a Promise Keeper and take care of the girl and the baby with a full commitment?”

If the answer is no, then put your hands in your pockets and walk away.

Sherry Knowles, Founder of The Kectil Program



Sherry M. Knowles,

Founder, The Kectil Program

I was in Nairobi last year visiting Kibera, the largest urban slum in the Africa. Most slum residents live in extreme poverty. There is high unemployment. There are few schools. Clean water is scarce. There is a high amount of disease caused by poor environmental conditions. Cases of rape, beatings and assault against girls and women are common. Kibera is like other areas of poverty in many developing countries.

Many young girls from Kibera and rural areas drop out of school early because it is free only up to age 12-13. After that she has little opportunity for employment and a dim future. She often lives in a one room tin house with her family, and her parents can’t afford to support her through high school. The girl then start wandering around the slum and meets a boy or an older man who pays attention to her and may give her gifts or money. She is happy with the attention, because she doesn’t get attention or financial support at home. Then the boy or man takes advantage of the poor girl and she becomes pregnant. The boy/man disappears into the night never to be seen again.  No more money or gifts because he got what he wanted. And the girl’s life is destroyed. She now has a baby growing inside her and she has no money. Because of the culture, most parents throw their daughters out of the house, saying she has embarrassed them. She wanders around the slum in search of somewhere to live. As the baby comes, she has no support. Sometimes, the baby is taken away from her by the government because she can’t care for it. Sometimes she abandons the baby at the hospital or tries to throw it away.  She suffers the anxiety of being separated from her baby but has no alternative. Or she keeps the baby and becomes a beggar to take care of it. She has no chance to get an education, better herself or find a path out of her situation.

Many, and maybe most, people think this situation is the girl’s fault for “being taken advantage of”.  Kectil says the opposite. The boy or man has committed virtual murder and run away from the scene. He bears no bad results from that unfortunate night she got pregnant, and her life was destroyed. There is little difference between actually killing someone and taking her life away.

Not only does the irresponsible actions of the male destroy the girl’s life, but it also creates a baby that will be raised without a father. And the child may grow up without a mother or a father.

I visited a community outreach center outside Kibera that was trying to teach girls to do positive things like join a singing group, make pottery or act in a play. My immediate impression is that these programs have it very wrong even though well intentioned. They are speaking to the wrong group. They should be training the boys and men, not the girls, to break this terrible cycle.

Boys and men must be taught to be “Promise Keepers”. They must be taught that they have a deep requirement to take care of the girls and women in their community. They must be protectors, not virtual murderers. And this means they have a responsibility even to those girls or women who are dressing or acting the wrong way, which males would interpret as an “invitation”. They have a responsibility to protect all females, even from their own confused or confusing behavior (which is most often a cry for attention or to fill a need for support). And society must hold males accountable.

This is the Kectil approach. When a boy or man sees a girl he finds attractive or even seems inviting, he must ask himself this VERY important question.

“If I am with this girl/woman and she gets pregnant, would I be willing to be a Promise Keeper and take care of the girl/woman and the baby with a full commitment?”

If the answer is no, then put your hands in your pocket and walk away.

Simply put, it is the male’s fault when teenage girls get pregnant outside of marriage. It is the male who does the act.

Also, it is the fault of the community when young girls are raped and then married off to an older man to “save them” from a bad reputation.

If boys and men are trained to become “Promise Keepers”, think about the enormous effect on society! It would be transformational. It would protect the holiness of marriage and the family structure. It would give girls time to grow up, who can then to contribute positively to society. It would prevent the birth of unwanted children who have little hope to be supported to be happy and productive.

Men are biologically created to be protectors. Use this instinct for good. Do what you are born to do. Protect the girls in your community so that they can grow up, get an education, and mature. The oath by males to be Promise Keepers includes an agreement to love and protect ALL girls and women in your society, without exception. It also includes an agreement to spread the word among other males to join the group of males who stand up and break the cycle of rape, assault, beatings, teenage pregnancy and older male or forced marriages.

And by the way, this problem does not just exist in the slums of Kibera. This problem exists in all levels of society, and in fact, throughout the world, not just in developing countries.

It is one of the goals of The Kectil Program that males use their protective instinct for good and become Promise Keepers, and then spread the word by “each one teach one”.


With kind regards

Sherry Knowles

The Kectil Program

The Malmar Knowles Family Foundation