Western girls holiday in Kenya to undergo FGM in secret
By Katy Migiro
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Somali families living in Britain and the United States are bringing their daughters to Kenya to secretly undergo female genital mutiliation (FGM) as their home countries crack down on the internationally condemned practice.
Families pay up to $300 for a girl's genitals to be cut, said circumcisers and an anti-FGM campaigner in Nairobi's Eastleigh district, nicknamed Little Mogadishu as it is home to refugees from neighboring war-torn Somalia and ethnic Somali Kenyans.
"Somalis come from America and Europe," said one elderly circumciser, wearing a purple and white tie-dye headscarf.
"They always come to me because they are scared to do it there ... During the holidays, they come and I cut them."
The circumciser, who learned the trade as a teenager in northern Kenya, declined to give her name as Kenya has stepped up prosecutions for FGM. The ritual, which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, can cause haemorrhage, shock, childbirth complications, fistula and death.
Under Kenya's 2011 law, those practising FGM face a minimum of three years in jail or a fine, and life imprisonment if the girl dies. Some 50 cases are in court, with at least two people facing murder charges.
Christmas is the cutting season in Kenya as schools close for six weeks. The government's FGM prosecution unit took out newspaper adverts in November warning that it was monitoring communities that practise FGM.
Around 27 percent of Kenyan women and girls have been cut. In Somalia the practice is almost universal. Continued...