•My friend did not want to undergo the practice but was forced by her parents and had to comply.
•She bled excessively and died since the parents feared they would be arrested if they took her to the hospital.
Your Excellency, I am Sholloi, a 16-year-old from Suswa in Narok County.
I belong to the Masaai Community which continues to practice Female Genital Mutilation/Cut (FGM/C).
I am not supposed to undergo FGM/C because it is a cruel practice that does not help girls and women.
My community believes that FGM/C is one of the rites of passage for girls into womanhood, but from my perspective, it is not.
I said no to FGM/C when I lost one of my friends to the act.
My friend did not want to undergo the practice but was forced by her parents and had to comply.
She bled excessively and died since the parents feared they would be arrested if they took her to the hospital.
What I saw gave me more strength to say no to the practice, stand firm, and fight for my own rights and that of others.
Your Excellency, it is also true that when a Maasai girl is cut, she will get married off to an older man denying her the opportunity to continue with her education.
That is what I never wanted to happen to me.
I am passionate about my future, and I have the ambition to fulfil it.
I am also passionate about girl-child education.
Knowing my rights is what has helped me to fight and stand firm.
Even though I live with my parents who have limited knowledge, I had to make them understand that the practice has dangerous effects.
My parents are now aware and have changed their minds about FGM/C. I’m lucky among the many girls who are at risk of the practice.
Your Excellency, many girls run to the few rescue centres to escape FGM/C and child marriages.
Once girls are there, they are able to be educated to the extent of achieving their dreams.
If rescue centres were not there, then girls would have nowhere to run for support, and their lives would have been destroyed by harmful cultural practices including child marriages.
Mr President, being the head of state, I thank you for being passionate about girl child education.
This is noted through the many long speeches you deliver during National Celebrations. Please continue with the good fight. It is worth it; we girls are worth it!
Your Excellency, I therefore humbly request the government to build rescue centres in all sub-counties to complement the work of many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Kenya.
Bring more rescue centres closer to us! Thank you Sir!
Sholloi, Girls’ rights champion, The Girl Generation- Support to the Africa-led Movement to End FGM/C [email protected] www.thegirlgeneration.org
Femi One -Rapper, Lyricist and Philanthropist.