96 POKOT GIRLS RESCUED FROM CUT
It’s better to be baptised a rebel than to have an important part of your body cut off and be forced into early marriage, said anti-FGM chair Linah Kilimo
N inety-six girls rescued from female genital mutilation and early marriages in West Pokot have been awarded after completing different courses at the St Elizabeth Girls Centre in Ortum, Pokot.
The graduates underwent training on computer fundamentals, technical skills, digital media/web design, online work skills, coding skills, life skills and healthcare planning and financial literacy skills.
Speaking during the event, Anti-FGM chair Linah Jebii Kilimo applauded the girls, most of whom had run away from their homes to avoid being circumcised and married off. “This is a great move. It’s better to be baptised a rebel than having an important part of your body cut off and being forced into marriage at a tender age,” she said.
She advised the girls to be antiFGM ambassadors. “Tell younger girls to refuse being equated to cows. You are all much more important than those animals your parents seek as they marry you off,” she said. She asked men to allow their girls to go to school and women to stop being ignorant by agreeing to everything their husbands say. “Women, please stand firm and protect your daughters,” she reiterated.
Though most of those graduating had escaped the abuse, it was different for 18-year-old Helen Kamuturey, who was circumcised at 12 years. “I was circumcised by four midwives. It is the most painful experience I have ever gone through,” she said.
Helen was to be married off but managed to escape as two old men who had brought equal bride price fought to outdo each. “The one who would have emerged stronger would carry the day, and I would have been handed to him,” she says.
While they fought, Helen, who was locked in the house, managed to escape through the roof. “I was very lucky. I would have been a mother by now,” she said, adding that parents and especially fathers should start respecting their daughters.
Labour PS Khadijah Kassachoon, who also attended the function, told the girls that she should be an example to them that Pokot girls can get education and good jobs. “You were not born for marriage. Look at us and know life is bright,” she said.
The African Centre for Women, Information and Communication Technology, through support from Microsoft Corporation, provided technical ICT training skills. They also received training on cookery, hairdressing, farming and life skills. The girls are later attached to mentors who follow up on their progress.