Woman who quit FGM gets Shujaa medal


Juliana Chebor, 60, from Mount Elgon in Bungoma County [Courtesy]

For many years, Juliana Chebor was a household name whenever the topic of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) came up.

The 60-year-old woman had a stark reputation in Mount Elgon, Bungoma County, where she was known for circumcising girls and women.

“I would circumcise between 400 and 500 girls during school holidays mainly in April, August and December,” Chebor says.

She charged between Sh500 and Sh1,500 for her services, depending on the age of the girl undergoing the cut. 

Chebor says in cases where a girl screamed during the cut, the parents would pay an extra Sh3,000 penalty in addition to one ram, because screaming during the procedure was considered an abomination.

However, Chebor's career took a drastic turn when the government, in partnership with some non-governmental organisations, began anti-FGM campaigns in Mount Elgon and other parts of the country where the practice was rampant.

“I was among those who underwent training courtesy of the partnership, which focused on the dangers of circumcising girls and women, and how the practices could be overcome,” she says.

“They promised to help us venture into business after we dropped the knives and became anti-FGM champions.”

And now, Chebor leads other women in the fight against FGM, an initiative that has earned her fame and put her on the map.

She was among heroes recognised by President Uhuru Kenyatta during Mashujaa Day celebrations held in Nyeri County last month.

On Monday, Chebor was among important guests invited by Bungoma County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti to receive their Shujaa medals at the county headquarters.

Kimiti lauded her, saying her efforts had impacted the lives of girls and women positively.

“I felt happy because I was correcting the wrongs I committed in many years by preaching anti-FGM gospel. Our combined efforts are bearing fruit in ending FGM in this region,” Chebor said.

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