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09.08.2018 Grace Kerubo

The Black Holidays

The young girl, who should be taken care of with love and protection will be subjected to a cruel and most violent procedure by the people she loves and trusts. The girl who should enjoy the holidays like many other girls around the world will spend the rest of the holiday writhing in physical and psychological pain.

Well, this sounds like a title to some black Hollywood movie considering that Kenya is an African country. It’s not a movie though, it literary refers to the somber mood that engulfs school holidays here in Kisii. Even more specifically, it refers to the agony and anguish that girls undergo during the holiday season.  

We all love holidays as a time to relax and enjoy the rest that comes with hard work. But holidays make even more sense to school going children all over the world as they take a break from the busy class schedules. Here in Kisii, holidays are a time when children come to dine and feast on home delicacies. Those in boarding schools have the chance to put on their best outfits before they outgrow them. It is a time to watch cartoons and get in touch with the latest trending dance moves. Market places get flooded with the company of young girls and boys hanging out. Churches change their usual programs to make room for teenagers eager to worship in their own youthful ways. For parents, it is a time to enjoy the company of their loved ones whom they have not been with for three long months. Besides the constant yelling and shouting to get the teenagers to carry out their duties, parents enjoy the extra hands they get in their farms.  

Yet in spite of all this glitter surrounding school holidays, there is gloom, a blackness that swallows the glitter; the circumcision of girls.  

Hundreds of girls will be undergoing FGM during the upcoming holiday season.  

By now, parents and involved guardians have put measures in place for the practice. They all know that FGM is illegal in the country and therefore, the plans are made in silence and secrecy. The guardians have identified the girls to be circumcised and the common trend is that they will not let the targeted girls to know of the plan lest they escape. Contributions continue to flow to finance the activity, a larger portion of which includes money for a brand new ‘princess dress’ and good food for the circumcised girl. The place for the girls to heal is also under preparation and usually includes a part of the house that is rarely used. The circumciser, probably a medical practitioner has been informed and even paid in advance because of the long list of girls to circumcise. And for some reason and in some ways, the parents begin to be particularly nice to the targeted girl. In fact, the mother begins to talk to her with more respect and even reminds her that she is growing up fast. The father, on the other hand, begins to keep his distance from the girl, best referring her to her mother for anything she may require. The younger siblings are asked to obey her as she is soon becoming a ‘big’ girl.  

With all these preparations, the girl will be ready to be circumcised come August. She will stay hidden for about a week before she is revealed to the world as a ‘woman’.  

What transformation will take place in hundreds of girls during the August Holidays? 

A girl’s innocence will be taken away. 

A girl’s sexual and reproductive rights will be taken away. 

A girl’s human rights will be violated. 

The girl will be subjected to some many possible health effects of FGM, including the dreaded condition of fistula and many other infections.  

The young girl, who should be taken care of with love and protection will be subjected to a cruel and most violent procedure by the people she loves and trusts.  

The girl who should enjoy the holidays like many other girls around the world will spend the rest of the holiday writhing in physical and psychological pain.  

This august, a girl will be mutilated.

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