Kenyan Teen Fights Tradition, Escapes FGM

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Six years ago, when I was 11, I was supposed to undergo circumcision. Many of my relations had come to watch my circumcision ceremony. In my community, it is believed that circumcised girls are able to control themselves in terms of sexual matters and that is why many insist it should be done.

When I realized what was happening, I thought of the many disadvantages of circumcision that my teachers told us and I decided that I would not do it. Circumcision can lead to death and many circumcised women have difficulties giving birth. It can also lead to transmission of disease especially since it is not unusual for the same circumcision tools to be used on many girls.

I tried explaining my position to my parents. They were furious and insisted I had no option but to be circumcised. Early in the morning, the day I was to be circumcised, I ran away to seek for help from one of my teachers.

My teacher, together with our chief, accompanied me to my home and forced my parents and other relatives to withdraw their plans. My parents explained to them that it was a tradition, but my teacher and chief disagreed and told them that it was against the law and if they insisted on continuing with the practice they would be arrested and taken to court.

That is how I was saved and I will live to thank my teacher and the chief for they helped me as well as my siblings as they were saved from circumcision. Thankfully, the number of circumcised girls in my community has reducing compared to the olden days where circumcision was a rite of passage for every girl in my community. This has been made possible due to the many campaigns that have been carried out to stop female genital mutilation. I hope the number will continue reducing until it comes to an end.

*The writer’s name is being withheld to protect her privacy. She was assisted with this essay by Bilha Akoth, Mary Nyamvula, Jackline Peche, Irene Wacera. All are students at Daraja Academy in Kenya.

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