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Friday, March 11, 2011

KENYA: Lawyers ask Men to Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation

March 10, 2011
Women News Network
Kenya Correspondent, Gitonga Njeru

Pokot District, Kenya: Human rights lawyers are asking Kenyan men to be a stronger part of the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), which despite being illegal in Kenya, is still widely practiced by some communities.

One of the communities that has not yet abandoned FGM is Kenya’s Pokot community. Unfortunately in the district, many men in the region, and throughout Africa, still encourage circumcisers to continue the practice.

Most Pokot men place value and usually demand that a woman must be circumcised in order to marry, but there are some growing exceptions to this rule.

“I was circumcised as a little girl and I managed to get a husband,” says Selina Lorupe, a 43 year old mother of 2 children. “Many women in my Pokot community continue to be circumcised. It is part of our culture but other women are slowly resisting this move,” she highlights.

Numbers from The Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization, a group that fights for the rights of women in Africa, estimate that 500 young Pokot girls and women were circumcised, in only one month, last December 2009, alone.

Despite FGM being rampant among the Pokot, advocacy groups are working hard to educate local women about the health dangers associated with the practice. But society pressures sometimes outweigh education. Advocates have noticed some improvements through their campaigns, but improvements over the past years have been backsliding.

More Pokot men are now marrying women outside their communities, from places such as the Kikuyu, Meru, and Kuria, where the practice of FGM – female genital mutilation – remains intact.
Kenyan human right lawyers suggest this undermines the fight to discourage FGM, making it even more difficult to eradicate...

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