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Women protest anti-FGM activists’ bid to rescue girls from cut

By Stanley Ongwae | January 17th 2015

Kenya: There was tension at Sikawa in Transmara, Narok County after a group of women clashed with authorities when they were busted preparing to conduct female genital mutilation (FGM).

Two rights activists were held hostage by villagers for more than eight hours after they went to rescue girls who were to be allegedly circumcised.

The Enosaen villagers who mainly comprised women later demonstrated, demanding to be allowed to circumcise girls. However, men watched from a distance as the women went on the rampage, burning logs and barricading the roads. Transmara West Maendeleo Ya Wanawake organisation chairperson Hellen Katim and rights activist Mary Konchela were accosted by the irate villagers in the botched rescue mission.

The villagers accused the two of extorting money from those found engaging in the outlawed practice instead of reporting them to police.

“We are tired of these women who have been coming to villages in the name of protecting girls from FGM but they end up fleecing us hundreds of thousands of shillings. Most of us here have sold our animals and land to buy freedom from these ladies yet what we are doing is our rightful cultural practice,” said Emily Sanduk, one of the demonstrators.

But the activists said they had arrived in the village at around 5am accompanied by policemen to rescue some girls from undergoing FGM before they met resistance from villagers.

She denied allegations of extorting money from the women.

“The money they are saying I have taken is the legal bonds and sureties that they give to court and think that I am the one who takes the money,” she said.

Transmara West OCPD Alfred Muthua said the police later rescued the activists after peaceful negotiations between government representatives and clan elders.


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