Last December, WGEP Executive Director Amy Maglio traveled to Tharaka, Kenya, to be part of our annual Alternative Rite of Passage program, a community-led initiative to eradicate the practice of female genital cutting in the region.
This year, 200 girls aged 9-17 participated in the week-long program and, together with their families, publicly said "No!" to genital circumcision as a rite of passage for girls.
During the week, the girls took part in workshops led by both male and female community members on topics such as empowerment, interpersonal relationships and the myths surrounding genital cutting. They met with female role models, professional women now serving as bankers, principals and teachers who themselves rejected cutting as young girls.
At the end of the week, the program hosted a community gathering to celebrate the girls and their families. Regional and local government officials were among the guests, including the local magistrate, the regional director of Human Services, and the regional director of the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Development. The girls performed uplifting skits and dances and participated in a ceremonial cutting--where only a cake was cut.
According to the World Health Organization, about 140 million women worldwide are living with the consequences of genital mutilation, 92 million of them in Africa.
Besides the harmful physical and emotional effects of genital mutilation, the practice also encourages girls to drop out of school as it is used as a rite of passage into womanhood and to signify that a girl is ready for marriage. In Tharaka, girls as young as nine years old have undergone the practice.
Thank you for supporting our work in Kenya to help fight female genital cutting. Your support is making a difference--our partners in Tharaka report significant progress in this fight over the past years as more and more girls, their families and their communities reject the practice.
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