More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting -FGM/C is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Despite the fact that FGM is illegal in Kenya; it is still widely practiced in Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit and Laikipia counties. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting can be defined as the practice that involves the partial/total removal of the external genital organs of a female for “customary or any other non-therapeutic reason.
Feature Story Corrine* (FGM)
My name is Corrine and I am 14 years old. I am come from a family of seven. I was best friends with my sister, who I had nicknamed Nana. She was my stronghold and we did everything together. After school, we used to have to go get some water every day from the river. The river was very far from home and we used to come back very late when it was dark. I was always very scared of the dark and Nana used to tell me “Corrine, I well always protect you, whenever I am around, never be scared” I knew she was as scared as I was but her presence gave me courage.
When I was 11 and she was 12 years old, she was to be married off to an old man of about 55 years. Everything was all set, the dowry was paid, one cow to be exact. As is the customs in Samburu culture,
any girl that is going to get married has to undergo FGM and Nana was no exception. That fateful day, we were woken up at 6, my sister and the rest of the 5 girls were stripped of their clothing and were poured the freezing cold water outside the manyattas where there was a crowd full of women and girls only. The girls were told to sit down and pull their legs apart. I watched in horror as they cut my sisters private parts. I could feel her wanting to scream but she not because it is a taboo to do so. Screaming would bring shame to my father who is supposed to marry her tomorrow. As she bled, they lady carrying out the operation tried to pour some cold milk around her excessively bleeding private parts. Judging from her reaction, things weren’t going as planned, they smeared some traditional oil in the hopes that she would stop bleeding. She was told to go and rest at the hut. I watched as she tried to stand up. As soon as she stood up, blood came out of her like a river and she dropped suddenly. I watched in horror as my precious sister passed away during her FGM operation. That was the worst day of my life. I could not believe my sister, my rock and stone was gone.
The next day, the day that my late 12 year old sister was supposed to be married off, the old man came to my house. He was demanding his wife or get the dowry back. My father said I was to be married off to him. That meant that the following day, I was supposed to be circumcised to get ready for my wedding. I couldn’t believe that I was going to go through Nana’s ordeal, all I could remember were the inner screams that my sister had, and I could remember her falling and her life slowly slipping away from her painfully. That evening, as I was getting ready for my day next, a tall lady who identified herself as Josephine the founder of SGF came and demanded to speak to my father, I do not know what transpired but I remember him saying ‘no, no school! She isn’t going back to school.’ I was devastated to hear that. Luckily, Josephine took me away from all that, I was safe from FGM, I was safe from marriage, I underwent counselling by SGF and I am now back to school. I do not want to see any other child go through what my sister went through. I want to thank SGF and its donors for helping me stay away from FGM and marriage and for helping me stay in school.
*Name has been changed and story edited for coherence