Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Women’s group saves 100 girls from ‘cut’

By ERICK NGOBILO [email protected] AND PETER NG’ETICH [email protected]

More than 100 teenage girls who had been identified for circumcision in Mt Elgon have been saved by Maendeleo Ya Wanawake officials.

The girls, who were set to face the knife in Kamuneru location are now being counselled at a secondary school.

Mt Elgon District Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Jennifer Mbatian said some of the girls were traumatised as they had undergone preparations for the rite.

“Some were threatened with death if they tried to escape,” she said.

“We counsel and teach them of the dangers associated with the practice,” she said.

She said some of the rescued girls had been disowned by their parents.

The girls, aged between nine to 12 years, narrated how they escaped and the repercussions.

“We will never be allowed back into our families,” one said.

Some of the girls, who are waiting for their KCPE examination results, are afraid their education will be cut short as they would be married off after they healed.

One of the girls said her mother took her to her grandmother’s home for the ritual.

“They said if I did not do it, I would never get married as no man would want me,” she said.

She was also told that education was not meant for women as they are supposed to get married and take care of their husbands.

Mrs Mbatian said they were worried about where to take the girls after training and urged to the government to set up a rescue centre in Mt Elgon.

She also appealed to the Sabaot community to abandon the culture. “Female genital mutilation is a monster destroying the destiny of the girl child,” she said.

In Marakwet, 150 girls aged 11 to 15 have undergone an alternative rite of passage.

Marakwet Girls and Women Project coordinator Mary Hilda Kiplagat said girls were educated on womanhood issues.

“Many people believe that the rite transforms girls to women, but that is outdated,” she said.

Ms Kiplagat said it was sad that 200 girls, including two married women, had been circumcised.