Kenyan girls spend Christmas at school to escape female genital mutilation at home

Kenyan girls spend Christmas at school to escape female genital mutilation at home
Kogelo, Kenya (credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)

Hundreds of Kenyan girls are preparing to spend Christmas in schools, rather than with their families, fearing that their parents will force them to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

Schools that should have closed more than a month ago for the holidays are staying open for the girls, while others are staying in churches in north-western Pokot County.

Alice Jebet, 14, says there are financial, as well as cultural reasons, why so many parents support the practice:

“My parents force us to undergo FGM because they want dowry. When girls are circumcised, their parents have already arranged for them to be married off.

“When they finish the initiation, their parents introduce them to their husband, whose family gives them cows as dowry,” she tells the BBC.

Despite the introduction of stiff penalties for offenders after FGM was made illegal in 2011, the practice continues in many parts of Kenya.

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