Slowly Changing Painful Customs

Kenya group develops alternatives to female circumcision
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Mar 14, 2008 7:46 PM CDT
Hundreds of Egyptian girls protest the death of a girl during illegal circumcision in Egypt. The practice is a common rite of passage throughout the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.   (AP Photo/Mamdouh Thabet)
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(Newser) – The practice of female circumcision has been twice banned in Kenya, but nearly 40% of young women still undergo the painful and dangerous rite of passage into married life. The Christian Science Monitor profiles activists at the Tasaru Girls Rescue Center who work with villagers—using role models, lessons about womanhood and hygiene, and most of all, patience—to chip away at the deeply rooted rite. 

"Changing people’s attitudes is not like cut-and-paste on a computer," said one activist. "It takes time." Tasaru also gives shelter and education to girls who run away to avoid the procedure, which can cause miscarriages and maternal deaths. The practice, also called female genital mutilation, is common throughout the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, even in wealthier and well-educated societies.