eTeenagers in West Pokot County are now performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on themselves after a section of circumcisers downed their tools.
Social stigma is driving the girls to do the rather dangerous cut, officials say.
Thousands of young girls in the county are at risk of being subjected to early forced marriages, FGM and teenage pregnancy practices during this festive season.
Speaking to the Nation, some young girls from Lomut ward, who sought anonymity, said that due to peer pressure, they opted to do the cut on themselves as a rite of passage to adulthood.
Many circumcisers in the region have given up on the practice following firm laws under the FGM Act. Several circumcisers have been arrested and charged in court while others have been jailed because of performing the outlawed ritual.
The girls say it is because of the unbearable pressure and limited number of circumcisers that they resorted to cut each other, though in very private arrangements.
“We cut each other because we know how it is done. We just buy razor blades and go to undisclosed locations where we perform the cut,” said a Class Seven pupil.
Non-governmental organisations in the county say they are aware of such incidents and have asked the anti FGM board to shift focus to the emerging trend.
Ms Domitilla Chesang, the director of “I Rep” foundation, said the government needs to shift focus to the girls and find out the reason they still opt to do the cut amid a number of campaigns and workshops discouraging the practice.
She said the law has also to be restructured because the anti-FGM law doesn’t stipulate the procedure of dealing with girls performing the cut on themselves.
“There is no law that involves the circumcised girls, the law only penalises the cutters. We need to rethink how we can deal with the emerging trend. The law has a loophole and the girls need to be penalised for such an act. The girls are underage and there is no law to charge them before court,” she said.
She said the government needs to shift focus to the underlying peer pressure, bring the girls on board, and empower them with information on the negative effects of FGM.
“The boys should also be told to stop putting their girlfriends under pressure to undergo the cut; the uncut girls feel like they cant fit in the society,” said Ms Chesang.