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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Girls Face 'Cut' as School Dropout Rate Rises

January 6, 2011
The Standard
Edwin Cheserek

KENYAMore than 500 girls who were circumcised in Marakwet District during the December holidays have been initiated into adulthood.
aThe girls started graduating in different groups from last week, with the last batch doing so last weekend.

The locations that had a high number of ‘graduands’ included Murkutwa, Ketut and Kibaimwa.

Cases of female circumcision are on the increase in the region despite the Government outlawing the rite. There are also high rates of school dropouts in the area.

Education officials have raised the red flag, warning of an increase in girls dropping out of school due to forced marriages after undergoing circumcision.

Area DEO Gabriel Chebiegon said many parents would marry off their daughters and appealed to the Provincial Administration to be on the lookout. "Parents in rural areas are commonly known for subjecting their daughters to forced marriage after they are initiated," said Chebiegon. "The culture has ruined future lives of young girls."

He warned unless those perpetuating the vice are arrested and prosecuted, the practice would continue unabated.

Schools in communities where FGM is rampant, he said, performed poorly in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams whose results were released last week.

Marakwet Girls Rights Chairperson Mary Kiplagat said efforts to fight female circumcision have failed owing to the strategies that have sought to erode the cultures of communities practising it.

She said elders and religious leaders should advocate for such retrogressive traditional cultures to be abandoned, but retain the initiation aspect.

"Leaders should set up a programme of guiding and counselling girls in conformity with our social norms and cultural values," she said.