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The Courage to Say No

In Kenya, one village girl challenged the status quo by taking a stand against female circumcision, reports S&H contributor Jude Isabella.

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Courtesy of Josephine Kulea Leseita

Growing up in Oldonyiro, Kenya, a small village about 200 miles from Nairobi, Agnes Lekorere had always assumed she would be circumcised like all the women in her tribe—the ancient practice of cutting a girl’s genitals was considered a rite of womanhood. Then, as part of an educational campaign against the practice, a teacher at her primary school told Agnes’s class about some of the consequences of female genital mutilation, from difficult urination and painful sex to infertility, infection, and life-threatening bleeding. Even though it meant going against the wishes of her father and the village elders, the then 10-year-old Agnes decided to take a stand. “It was scary, and I was determined not to do it,” she says. Now 21 and a law student at Nairobi University, Lekorere is among a growing group of Kenyan women who have refused the procedure and encourage girls to do the same.The World Health Organization estimates that more than 125 million women and girls, most of them in Africa and the Middle East, are living with female genital mutilation. Depending on the culture, girls are cut anywhere from …

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KenyaFemale Circumcision

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