Living in this day and age of women empowerment, enlightenment and feminism, one would assume that traditional practices that put women and young girls at risk should be a thing of the past. Throughout Africa, many countries have made child marriages and female genital mutilation an unlawful act.
Unfortunately, day in and out, many stories with gruesome details around such activities seem to trend. So is the case of a thirteen-year-old girl in Nasorot village, Kenya, who is reported to have died over the weekend after going through female genital mutilation and a beating after she refused to marry a 60-year-old suitor.
Local media The Star reported that the girl died on Saturday and she was among a group of girls who recently underwent Female Genital Mutilation.
“Her parents forced her to marry an old man. She refused and village warriors descended on her with beatings. She lost her life as she was being disciplined,” a witness told The Star on Sunday.
The report cited villagers saying that the six village warriors responsible for her death were “punished” in a traditional cleansing ceremony known as “Labai” which requires them to present a large number of cows and goats as a fine and will be shared evenly among members of the dead girl’s clan.
“If the agreed number of animals is 600 cattle, there is an agreement to ensure generations of the accused clan complete paying the animals so they can be forgiven and cleansed,” a source told The Star.
The newspaper contacted the Tiaty East Deputy Commissioner Steve Muonge who said he had not received a report on the death. “If that is true, the culprits should be arrested immediately to face murder charges. I will instruct officers on the ground to take up the matter,” he said.
He also bemoaned the practice of female genital mutilation and early marriages in the community and neighbouring villages.
The possibility of this story blowing away with the wind is unfortunately very high because the case was not reported and the culprits could escape arrest.
It is very disheartening to still hear about such activities being practised in Africa. Such a story is only a wake-up call to reality about the hard work that needs to be done to ensure the lives of women and young girls are not in danger in the name of tradition.