By collaborating with locals, Kenyan police save hundreds of girls from circumcision rites

Kenyan Maasai women gather for a meeting about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Enkorika, Kajiado. (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Female genital mutilation “season” in Kenya begins this weekend, when most girls are home for the holidays and thus have time to heal from the painful ritual known locally as “the cut.” But an increase in tip-offs from locals, coupled with police presence in remote areas, has seen hundreds of girls saved from FGM ceremonies, during which part or all of a girl’s external genitalia is removed with a razor. In Marakwet, an area with a high incidence of FGM, eight arrests have been made over the past three weeks. “We only made one arrest for the whole of last year,” Alasow Hussein, deputy county commissioner for Marakwet, told The Guardian. He added that police have “physically … rescued hundreds [of girls] over weeks.”

Kenya’s anti-FGM prosecuting unit has been working closely with chiefs and local administrators, who have then been reporting when and where FGM ceremonies are likely to happen. Activists also used social media to circulate reports of barely-conscious girls being brought into hospitals due to blood loss, after circumcisers in certain regions began to perform the FGM ritual early. And because parental pressure to undergo the ceremony is significant, some schools have made efforts to educate girls on the benefits of refusing to submit to FGM. “We show them at the school that it is not a good thing,” Prisillah Kamau, headteacher of a girls’ school in West Pokot, said. “They meet students who have gone on to university and work and they see that there is another way to be … working, respected and free.”

FGM ceremonies function as a girl’s designation for marriage, so many girls who have been subjected to the ritual do not return to school. A girl who has not been “cut,” according to Kamau will by contrast  “have opportunities to go on in her education and go to college or university and be independent in her life.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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