KENYA: Instead Of Glory, Girls In Tarime Find Blood And Ashes

Published on IPPmedia, by Rose Mwalongo, December 17, 2010.

They came from all angles, clad in new attires as they longed to undergo a ritual that was supposed to change their lives for the better. The numerous girls had heard from their playmates that once they underwent that particular tradition, things would change for the better with lots of cash, food to eat and all they could hope for.

Poor them, if only they knew, they would have not longed for the event for instead of glory they found blood and ashes. Welcome, to the most horrifying ordeal of girls in Tarime, a district endowed with plenty but overshadowed by its ruthless act of mutilating girls for the sake of pride … // 

… We went to talk to the Tarime/Rolya Regional Police Commander only to find him say that as far as he was concerned FGM had gone down.

He said from what he knew girls were only mutilated in Kenya but said it was news to him over the incident in Sirari saying his officers will probe the issue.

”I will work on the reports from you as I was not aware that such acts were taking place in our area. FGM is not as rampant as it used to be. We have tried to educate people around of the effect of not only FGM but also mass circumcision of boys. This is part of the culture and it takes time to do away with it and we can’t do so abruptly. What we need is to educate these people that every tradition has its good and bad sides of it,” said Massawe.

Massawe is right on one thing, that this ruthless culture is so deep in people over there that it has seen 14 years old Giveness Fanuel live with only her mother as her father came close to killing them as she refused to allow her girls undergo the knife.

”My father managed to force my sister to undergo the knife and my mother fainted when she saw it. She reported the matter to the police and my father was arrested but released few days later. Once again, he attempted to take me undergo the ritual but mum was very strong and he failed,” recalls Fanuel.

Despite the failure, the nightmare did not end there, for one night her father came with a machete and slashed whatever he could find around forcing Fanuel’s mother to flee to safely at a school that she was teaching. The family has been there ever since and there are no plans to go back there.

One thing that seemed to affect people in Tarime is ignorance, for I wonder on whether most of them are aware what mutilating to girls does in the future. I wonder on whether they are aware that it means a future where girls would risk suffering from fistula, obstructed labour and bringing to the world retarded children as a result.

I wonder on whether they are aware that the physical and psychological torture sustained would ruin them for the rest of their lives. Okay then, let’s say they have decided to cling on it, but have we as a country failed to avert the situation?

I understand that there is a Ministry responsible with dealing with Community Development, Gender and Children, can’t they find a way to create awareness on the issue to save the poor girls from further pain.

Civil Societies such as the LHRC, TAMWA and others may be playing their part, but the government ought to do something to stop this practice as it does more harm than good. It is a disgrace to see that our society is still mutilating its girls 62 years down the road on human rights.

We may have marked the International Human Rights Day on December 10 this year, but our records on the way we treat our children remain questionable. We certainly ought to do better than we are if we are truly eager to live on what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us to do.

The truth is that anything is possible under the sun so long as we put efforts to it. Let all stakeholders join hands to do away with the mutilation of girls and women not only in Tarime but all over the country. (full text).

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