Kenyan school note to parents: don’t mutilate your daughter

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KENYA, KAJIADO : Kenyan Maasai women gather for a meeting dedicated to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in which several participants voiced opposition to a ban currently in place, on June 12, 2014, in Enkorika, Kajiado, 75km from Nairobi. Some women of the semi-nomadic Maasai community expressed the view that uncircumcised girls are no longer getting married and are promiscous, which they said was against their traditional culture. FGM is perceived by some of the more traditional women of the Maasai community as bringing honour to a girl and to her family, making girls more eligible for marriage and raising the social status of their familes. The Maasai have held to the custom in the face of widespread criticism by Kenyan society and the international community, and despite criminalisation of the practice by the Kenyan government in 2002. The Maasai ceremonial ritual accompanying FGM marks the coming of age of a girl, when she sheds the last vestiges of childhood and joins womankind. It is traditionally performed between the ages of 12 and 14 and is part of the traditional rites of passage for girls, in order for them to be considered adults in their community. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA
KENYA, KAJIADO : Kenyan Maasai women gather for a meeting dedicated to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in which several participants voiced opposition to a ban currently in place, on June 12, 2014, in Enkorika, Kajiado, 75km from Nairobi. Some women of the semi-nomadic Maasai community expressed the view that uncircumcised girls are no longer getting married and are promiscous, which they said was against their traditional culture. FGM is perceived by some of the more traditional women of the Maasai community as bringing honour to a girl and to her family, making girls more eligible for marriage and raising the social status of their familes. The Maasai have held to the custom in the face of widespread criticism by Kenyan society and the international community, and despite criminalisation of the practice by the Kenyan government in 2002. The Maasai ceremonial ritual accompanying FGM marks the coming of age of a girl, when she sheds the last vestiges of childhood and joins womankind. It is traditionally performed between the ages of 12 and 14 and is part of the traditional rites of passage for girls, in order for them to be considered adults in their community. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

NAIROBI, November 14, 2014 (AFP) – Kenyan school children have ended school for December holidays accompanied with a stern warning to parents: carry out female genital mutilation and be prosecuted.

The often deadly practice, which ranges from slicing off the clitoris to the mutilation and removal of the entire female genitalia, is banned in Kenya but still regularly carried out.

Kenya’s Office of Public Prosecution noted with “grave concern” December holidays were “a high season for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early forced marriages.”

Anti-FGM prosecution unit chief Christine Nanjala, in a letter to parents, guardians and medical practitioners, warned officers were monitoring communities where FGM or underage marriage was common practice, and would “take legal action against anybody involved.”

Kenya outlawed FGM in 2011, with practitioners punishable by a minimum three-year jail term or fine, and life imprisonment if the procedure causes death.

Apart from the intense pain itself, immediate dangers include bleeding and infection.

In the longer term, risks include infertility and complications during childbirth, sometimes resulting in the death of the baby.

Earlier this month UN chief Ban Ki-moon launched a global campaign in Kenya to end FGM within a generation.

More than 125 million women have been mutilated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which condemns the practice as a “violation of the human rights” of women.

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