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Students in Kenya.
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NewsGirls & Women

17 Girls Rescued From Child Marriage and FGM in Kenya

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a form of violence that stems from the cultural belief that a girl’s value lies in her virginity. You can take action here to call on world leaders to #LeveltheLaw and strengthen legislation to protect girls and women from violence.

Seventeen girls, all between the ages of 10 and 14, escaped child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya, by seeking refuge in a local school for deaf students, reports Standard Media.

Kabarnet School for the Deaf and Blind Principal Salina Dilot said the girls, who hail from Tiaty in Baringo County, had been brought to the school by a missionary a week earlier.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

“Now we are depending on well-wishers,” Dilot told Standard Media, noting that the school was not currently in session for the August holiday. “More assistance is required for us to continue hosting the girls.”

Baringo Central Children’s Officer Irene Chepkwony also stated that her department was in talks to have an institution permanently host the girls and enroll them in classes. Police were conducting an investigation into those alleged to have been involved in having the girls cut, according to the report.

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The story is the latest in a series of reports of young Kenyan girls seeking asylum from early marriage and FGM in academic centers.

In June, the Star reported on 33 girls being housed at the Tangulbei boarding primary school after escaping FGM. The school was similarly congested by the new inhabitants at that time and called upon its community for financial support and donations.

“We have tried to purchase some school uniforms and mattresses for the girls but more effects such as beds, shoes, and sanitary towels are still needed,” Tangulbei Women’s Network chairperson Mary Kuket told the media.

Local officials have previously blamed the prevalence of FGM in rural areas of Kenya on lack of education and awareness.

“We are aware the community is currently circumcising quite a number of girls in the bush, some have even graduated last year but no one from the grassroots has ever reported the vice,” said former Baringo county commissioner Peter Okwanyo at the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at Kabarnet Museum last year.

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Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, an FGM activist who has helped more than 15,000 young girls avoid the practice and was hailed as one of Time’s Most Influential People this year, further explained the lifelong impact of female circumcision that she seeks to correct.

“FGM, for Maasai, is a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood. Women are not considered women unless they have gone through FGM,” Leng’ete told Ebony. “FGM in my community connects to girls ending their education, with child marriage, and with teenage pregnancies. A girl is 10 or 12 years old when she undergoes FGM. Then she’s told she’s a woman, and that means she’s ready for marriage, and that means she has children. They all go together.”

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