2 September 2005

Kenya: Eight Boys Die After Circumcision Rite

Nairobi — Eight boys have died and more than 15 admitted to hospital in Samburu District after undergoing traditional circumcision, according to the area's medical boss.

Dr Philemon Too said the youths, between 15 and 20 years, had been among a group of more than 10,000 who had undergone a mass ritual in most parts of the district in August.

"Two died while undergoing treatment at the Maralal District Hospital, while the rest died at home, said Dr Too.

Those who died were from Suguta, Baragoi, Nyiro and Loosuk locations. They had been cut by traditional circumcisers, he said yesterday.

The medical officer said the boys bled to death and that efforts to educate the district's residents on the risks of engaging traditional circumcisers had been unsuccessful.

Dr Too said the hospital had started mobile clinics to help the victims, and asked the police to arrest all unqualified practitioners in the area.

Last month, two NGOs in the district - Christian Children's Fund and Saidia - donated 20,000 assorted circumcision equipment to the residents.

Meanwhile, women pastoralists in Isiolo and Garissa districts have threatened to sue those who practise female genital mutilation.

The practice, the women said, was harmful but the people in the two districts had refused to stop it.

During a five-day workshop in Isiolo, the women, led by Ms Zeinab Yussuf Dogo, said they would seek the assistance of human rights organisations.

UNICEF representative Bonne Wasike noted that the practice did not only affect girl child education but led to long-term complication among the women.

He said such harmful cultural practices should be discarded.

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