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My most recent visit to Pokot, Kenya was in June earlier this year. I and midwifery student Ruth (university of Cumbria) spent a day with members of “Kepsteno Rotwo” (abandon the knife in Pokot language), the self help group who are mobilising their community to abandon this awful practice. Group members comprise largely Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) some of whom were also circumcisers in the past but because of our awareness raising campaign have now abandoned the practice.

We had requested follow-up of the girls for monitoring and evaluation of our efforts thus far. We were informed by the group that altogether over the last 2 years 414 girls participated in our “Alternative Rite of Passage” (ARP) ceremonies. Of these only 4 girls were subsequently subjected to FGM. The majority of the girls are still at school and some even attending secondary school. One girl in particular, Nancy who attended the first ARP and features in the Guardian film is now in secondary school and is a good role model for the younger girls.

Miriam, Matron of Ortum Mission hospital in Pokot, reported that there had been no acute admissions at the hospital this year related to FGM.

All the group members agree that FGM is definitely on the wane.

Mary, the Chairlady, reported on the support of the District Commissioner. He has recognised and supported the group and requested that they represent the county on the issue of FGM. He sees FGM as relevant to many other issues dropout, early/forced marriage, early childbearing and overall lack of development. He has asked the group to work with the Children’s Rights Officer.

We are now fund raising again in earnest for this year’s ARP in December. This is traditionally the danger time for FGM.

A sponsored walk is planned, a triathlon and a comedy night in November (fingers crossed the comedian comes up trumps! No it’s not Mr. Methane!)

If anyone fancies doing some fun d raising that would be greatly appreciated. We can all play a part in making the world a better place without the horror of FGM! It’s great to be involved in something so worthwhile that is having such a positive effect. This is very much a team effort and thanks to everyone who is supporting that effort.

Lastly if you have not already watched the Guardian film, “Abandon the Knife” (also entitled “I will never be cut”), then may I recommend doing so. It is an inspirational, award winning documentary following the journey of 2 young Pokot girls who are refusing FGM. The film gives one much insight into the difficulties faced by communities who are locked into ancient customs and traditions when they have not been reached with education and enlightenment; a symptom of poverty and marginilisation!

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