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Monday, August 31, 2009
August 31, 2009 BY CORRESPONDENT THARAKA, Kenya, Aug 31 - Fifteen parents have been arrested in Tharaka South District for attempting to have their daughters circumcised. Tunyai District Officer Robert Kimosop on Monday said more arrests would follow and any parent found carrying out the outlawed cut would be prosecuted. The news comes even as 600 schoolgirls were rescued before they underwent Female Genital Mutilation in Meru and went through an alternative rite of passage facilitated by the Catholic Diocese of Meru. Majority of the girls, drawn mainly from Igembe North and South, Maara and Tharaka South districts said their families intended to have them circumcised over the just concluded August holidays. Meru Diocese social development coordinator Joseph Eruaki said the girls took part in seminars that ensured they embraced their cultural identity without violating their basic human rights. Mr Eruaki said the church extensively consulted respected elders’ council, parents and other stakeholders to assist in identifying valid cultural aspects to be imparted to the youth during trainings. He said the alternative rite of passage project does not aim at changing the Meru culture but enhances values that promote human dignity. The girls were trained in topics like adverse effects of FGM, their human rights, HIV/Aids prevention and control, relationships with the opposite sex, and positive and negative traditional practices. During the training the graduands narrated their ordeals before they came to the workshop, with one claiming that she had to escape from her grandparents’ home after she learnt of their plans to have her secretly circumcised and spent the night in the bush. Speaking in Meru at the weekend, Gender Minister Esther Murugi said out of the 42 tribes in the country, only five did not practice FGM.