More than 1,200 girls undergo Alternative Rites of Passage in largest ceremony in Kenya


(Photo: Kenneth Musyoka/Amref Health Africa)

 

August 31, 2015 – The largest Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony happened Friday, August 28 in Loitokitok in southern Kenya, near Mount Kilimanjaro.  

 

More than 1,200 girls from surrounding Maasai communities took part in the ceremony as a way to mark the transition from girlhood to womanhood, replacing  Female Genital Cutting (FGC), a practice that can have severe consequences for girls’ health. 

 

Amref Health Africa has worked in partnership with Maasai communities, with support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery in the Netherlands, to create a ceremony to replace FGC in 2007.  The key to the program’s success has been collaboration and dialogue with Maasai elders.  In addition to the public ceremony that includes traditional dances and processions, girls receive information on sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and human rights. 

 
 
 

(Photo: Kenneth Musyoka/Amref Health Africa)

 

Cultural leaders and girls from various areas in Kenya and Tanzania were present at the ceremony. Bringing leaders and girls from different communities has been shown to be effective at reducing FGC, and bringing about lasting change. 

 

To date, more than 7,000 girls have participated in an Alternative Rite of Passage in Kenya and Tanzania since the program started in 2009.

 

Read Nice’s story. Nice underwent Alternative Rites of Passage herself and is now a Project Officer for the program, working to end the practice in her neighboring communities.