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Garissa school kids on holiday unaware of looming FGM cut

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Monday November 27, 2017

As schoolchildren start the Christmas holidays, many parents in Garissa are plotting ways to have them undergo FGM.

This is despite knowing well the law prohibits Female Genital Mutilation. However, the parents organise to have the girls undergo the cut in secrecy.

This has drawn attention from the area administration, NGOs fighting FGM, clerics, scholars and the Nyumba Kumi initiative. They have intensified campaigns in the last two weeks to end the vice.

A series of meetings targeting area chiefs and youth organised by Sisters Maternity Home, a vocal anti-FGM crusader in Garissa, arrived at a consensus to take the fight to the rural areas.

The campaigners educate the community on the health and legal implications of the practice.

Statistically, the Somali community has the highest rates of FGM in the world. About 95 per cent of girls between the ages of four and 11 undergo FGM, according to Unicef.

FGM is a rite of passage that involves removal of the external female genitalia. It was officially banned by the UN in 2012, but is still widely practised.

During the workshops conducted in Bula Mzuri sublocation, two circumcisers handed over their tools to assistant chief Hubba Abdullahi after learning of the legal consequences if found culpable.
Abdullahi said they have information that some Somalis, from as far as Britain and Nairobi, are taking their girls to either villages in Tana River or in the refugee camps in Dadaab to undergo the cut.

It has been difficult to do it near the towns. Abdullahi said the circumcisers are making a killing out of the exercise. They charge between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000 per girl for the cut. Some years back a woman would circumcise up to 50 during a season.

Zahara Hashi, a nurse at Simaho, said at least three cases of retained menstruation, formation of cyst and delayed delivery are reported at the facility every week. These conditions lead to fistula and may cause permanent disability.

Some of the women have since been divorced for sexually underperforming.

Sheikh Hussein Mahat, an Islamic scholar, said the practice commonly witnessed among the Somali community has nothing to do with religion.

He said Islam is against the cut and it is nowhere in the Holy Quran or even in the countries where the religion started. Mahat adds that it is purely a cultural practice that has been sneaked into the religion by a few selfish individuals.

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