FGM: Images of female circumcision ceremony show distressing reality of female genital mutilation

Pictures from a Pokot ceremony show young girls being cut in ritual

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The Independent Online

Photos of young Kenyan girls being circumcised in a tribal ceremony have highlighted the stark reality faced by those who experience female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM, a non-medical practice involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, can lead to haemorrhaging, psychological damage, complications in childbirth, fistula and even death.

Harrowing images captured by Reuters photographer Siegfried Modola show young girls from the Pokot tribe being led out of huts and towards areas where they are then cut with razor blades by traditional circumcisers.

The practice is considered a rite of passage that marks the transition to womanhood and is a requirement for all Pokot girls before they marry.

The visibly distressed girls are seen bleeding and crying after the ritual has been performed.

Warning: This gallery contains images some may find distressing 

In Kenya, an estimated 27 per cent of girls will undergo FGM, usually between infancy and age 15. This figure reaches as high as 98 per cent in some communities, such as those in Somalia. 

Some 30 million African girls are at risk of FGM over the next decade. This includes tens of thousands of girls from diaspora communities in Europe and North America who are often taken abroad to be cut.

The procedure is usually carried out without aesthetic and elderly women will sometimes restrain young girls by sitting on them, occasionally breaking their bones in the process.

Guyo Jaldesa, an obstetrician and lecturer at the University of Nairobi told Reuters FGM has one overarching purpose: subjugation. "It's actually a way of controlling women, their sexuality, their mentality, their behaviour," he said.

The death rate among babies born to mothers who have undergone FGM is up to 55 per cent higher than that of babies born to uncut mothers, he added.

Modola's images come a month after the launch of the Africa-led Girl Generation campaign.

The initiative to end FGM will begin in the hardest-affected areas of Kenya, Burkina Faso and Nigeria this year.

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