350 Samburu girls saved from female genital mutilation
Over 300 Samburu girls have been saved from female genital mutilation. This intervention was part of Amref Health Africa’s alternative rite of Passage ceremony, which was held earlier in the week in Wamba, Samburu County.
The alternative rite of passage programme allows girls to forego the traditional female genital cut, but still retain key traditional teachings on womanhood.
By foregoing the cut, the Samburu girls will be able to not only avoid early marriages, but also continue with their education. This is a major step in a county where education for the girl child still lags far behind other counties.
Speaking at the Ceremony, Dutch Ambassador to Kenya Frans Makken said that the efforts to end female genital mutilation must be sustained even after the alternative rite of passage ceremony, and encouraged the girls and the community to be strong and resolute. “After the ceremony you have to stay courageous and firm. There will still be pressures. Please don’t cut the future away, don’t cut the education away,” he stressed.
His counterpart, Robert Godec, the American Ambassador, spoke at the ceremony saying that the American government was a strong partner to Kenya in health and education, particularly the welfare of young girls and women. “FGM is violence against girls. The time has come for FGM to end,” he said in his address to the community.
The Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony seeks to celebrate and preserve the rich Samburu cultural process of girls becoming women,” said Dr Meshack Ndirangu, Amref Health Africa’s Country Director for Kenya. “But what we advocate is that girls go through this process without circumcision, and that they get an opportunity to go to school and to grow up before they get married. We believe that education is the best circumcision for girls.”
In Kenya, 100,000 girls undergo FGM every year and around 21 per cent of girls and women have undergone the cut, according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014. Amref has been at the forefront ins reversing these numbers and has so far saved close to 11,000 girls in Samburu and Kajiado counties.