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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

350 teenage girls to face the knife

November 24, 2009 By Philemon Suter - Daily Nation

At least 350 teenage girls are to be circumcised in the next two weeks in Marakwet East and Pokot Central districts.

A pre-initiation ceremony known as kitung’a will take place in Kapsiren village, Koibirir location, on the Friday that schools are to close.

A source from the provincial administration and several primary school teachers told the Nation at Tot trading centre on Tuesday that according to cultural beliefs, the stars, prevailing weather patterns, and other key elements had signalled that the initiations should go on in the next two weeks.

About 120 girls aged between nine and 16 years are to undergo the rite in Endow, Kaben, and Koibirir locations while 60 others are targeted in Cheptulel in Marakwet.

In the neighbouring Lomut and Arpolo sub-locations in Pokot Central, more than 150 girls will undergo the cut.

Koibirir chief Alfrick Lorem said the teenagers are to be initiated during the December holidays.

The initiations come amid stern warnings by the government that perpetrators would be prosecuted. Human rights activists have also threatened to sue the perpetrators of the outlawed practice.

Separately, three married women were circumcised on Tuesday in Chepkwawai village in Chebororwa location, Marakwet West District.

According to anti-female genital mutilation crusaders, one of the women claimed that she was forced to undergo the rite or face excommunication by the society and divorce by her husband. The other two admitted that they had consented to be circumcised.

Marakwet East district commissioner Joseph Kisangau put FGM practitioners in the district on notice.

“We have instructed chiefs to be on the look-out throughout the December holiday. Should anyone circumcise a girl or woman, they will be arrested and prosecuted,” he warned.

Marakwet West district children’s officer Peter Kutere said the government had criminalised forced circumcision of girls and warned parents that they risked being jailed if their daughters underwent the rite.