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Police offer woman who killed Kenyan teenager with FGM a cow for retiring

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 5 Sep 2014 08:00 GMT
wom-rig
In a 2007 file photo, a group of Maasai women listen during a campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kilgoris in Trans Mara district. Among some communities, like the Kisii and Maasai, almost all girls are cut. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna
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NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Police in western Kenya have asked a rights campaigner to donate a cow to a woman who promised to stop performing female genital mutilation (FGM) after she caused the death of a 16-year-old girl, The Standard reported on Thursday.

Kenyan law provides for life imprisonment when a girl dies from FGM, a traditional practice that involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It can cause haemorrhage, shock, complications in childbirth, fistula and severe pain during sexual intercourse.

Alvina Noel, 16, bled to death after giving birth to a baby girl on July 30 because of excessive bleeding from a reopened FGM wound. She had been cut by traditional circumciser Cheporonger Yarasia two weeks earlier.

Yarasia, 53, handed her tools over to a pastor on Wednesday and asked him to take her to the police station, The Star reported. In one report, the circumciser, who appears to be blind in one eye, is pictured kneeling down while Pastor Daniel Katome and several women pray for her.

“Yarasia, who speaks only Pokot, signed an agreement to stop performing the cut and made a vow before the police at the Crimes Prevention Unit in Kapenguria,” The Standard said, referring to the capital of West Pokot county, 400km northwest of the capital Nairobi.

The report said that police officer in-charge Newton Njehia encouraged Teresa Lokichu, from the charity Pokot Girl Child Initiative, to donate a cow to the “reformed” woman.

Lokichu had been searching for the woman since she heard about the teenager’s death and used the pastor to persuade Yarasia to surrender.

The mother of eight has been a circumciser for 20 years, local media reported.

TABOO

Teenager Noel’s parents insisted that she be cut two weeks before delivery, after finding out that she was pregnant.

“The parents, who are my in-laws, rushed the girl to my home early in the morning to undergo the rite since it’s taboo for a girl to give birth before she is cut,” Yarasia told The Star.

Kenya stepped up the fight against FGM with the creation of a prosecution unit in March and a hotline last month.

Police are searching for another circumciser responsible for the death of a 13-year-old Maasai girl, Rehema Lesale, who bled to death in April. Her two guardians are on trial for her murder.

Around 27 percent of Kenyan women and girls have been circumcised, with the highest rates among the Somali, Kisii and Maasai communities.

(Editing by Alisa Tang: alisa.tang@thomsonreuters.com)

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