Friday, December 17, 2010

2,500 boys and girls undergo ‘cut’

Photo | File Young Moses Ndombi is all set to be initiated into manhood by facing the knife in Bunyala, Lugari Constituency. The traditional rite of passage is usually conducted in December.

Photo | File Young Moses Ndombi is all set to be initiated into manhood by facing the knife in Bunyala, Lugari Constituency. The traditional rite of passage is usually conducted in December. 

By ELISHA OTIENO [email protected]

About 2,500 boys and girls have been circumcised in Kuria West and East districts since the beginning of the month.

About 2,000 boys and 500 girls, some as young as nine years old, were initiated during the first two weeks of the month-long traditional rite of passage.

Parents and guardians have been playing hide-and-seek with the provincial administration and police after the government declared circumcision of girls illegal.

At least eight parents were being sought yesterday after they forced their daughters to face the knife.

Leaders and government officials led by area MP Wilfred Machage have vehemently opposed the circumcision of girls, commonly referred to as Female Genital Mutilation, and have vowed to bring the perpetrators to book.

The leaders say the tradition had retarded socio-economic development in the region.

More than 400 girls have sought refuge at two rescue camps set up by the government in collaboration with non-governmental organisations and community and faith-based organisations to shelter girls threatened with forced circumcision.

But there are fears that the efforts to save girls from the cut could be fruitless because in previous years, almost three quarters of the girls who underwent alternative rite of passage training in such rescue camps were forced by parents or guardians to undergo circumcision on returning home.

Although the Children’s Act outlaws circumcision of girls below 18 years of age, parents from this community have continued to indiscriminately mutilate their young daughters with impunity.

For the past two weeks, circumcisers have been doing a roaring business, charging up to Sh500 per initiate.

NGOs including Action Aid Kenya, Adventist Development Relief Agency (Adra) and World Vision are sponsoring the alternative rite of passage training at the two rescue camps at Komotobo and St Teresa’s primary boarding school at a cost of more than Sh3 million.

Adra programme coordinator Mr Robert Onsando said female circumcision would take time to be eradicated because it was part of the community’s culture.

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