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Young girls allegedly performing FGM on their own

By Irissheel Shanzu | December 23rd 2019

Young girls in West Pokot have resorted to circumcising each other after elderly women circumcisers shunned the practice following a government ban.

Some of the girls interviewed by The Standard said they can no longer stand pressure from their peers since the stigma associated with uncircumcised girls in the region runs deep.

The new admission opens a fresh challenge as the government struggles to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Some girls who spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity at Lomut ward said they have opted to perform the procedure on their own to avoid scorn from their female and male age mates.

They said most of the female circumcisers have been arrested and jailed following stern laws against the practice.

“We cut each other. We know how it is done and we don’t fear. We just buy razor blades and go to a secret place where we perform the circumcision,” said a Class Seven pupil.

New trend

They said over the years, they have observed their mothers perform the practice and can confidently 'cut' each other.

Some of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in West Pokot county said they are aware of such incidences.

Domtilla Chesang, a director with I-Rep Foundation, an NGO that fights FGM, said the government needs to shift focus on the new trend.

Ms Chesang said it is time proper research is undertaken to understand why the girls are so desperate to undergo the practice, even after it has been outlawed.

She argued that the current anti-FGM law does not explain the action that should be taken on those who circumcise themselves.

“There is no law that stipulates what action should be taken on girls who circumcise themselves. The current law only focuses on those who perform the 'cut' on the girls," said Chesang.

Peer pressure

"We need to rethink how we can deal with the emerging trend. The law has a loophole. The girls need to be penalised for such actions. They think they are underage and cannot be charged in court.”

She noted that focus should be put on peer pressure. This, Chesang said, can be done by empowering the girls and providing them with information on the negative effects of FGM.

“Boys should also be told to stop pressuring their girlfriends to undergo the cut. Uncircumcised girls feel like they can’t fit in society,” she said.

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