28 August 2014

Kenyan Teenager Bleeds to Death Giving Birth Days After FGM - Report

Nairobi — A 16-year-old girl bled to death after giving birth because her body had not healed from the female circumcision she had been forced to undergo several days earlier, Kenya's Daily Nation reported on Thursday.

Alvina Noel, from the town of West Pokot, was forced to have the operation when her family discovered she was pregnant, the paper reported.

She gave birth only a few days later and after suffering heavy bleeding was taken to a dispensary, where a health officer referred her to a hospital, Mariam Suleiman, executive director of the Women Rights Institute for Peace, told the paper.

"The parents failed to take her there for fear that what they had done would be made public," the paper said. The girl "succumbed to excessive bleeding from the reopened circumcision wound," it said.

Kenyan law provides for life imprisonment when a girl dies from female circumcision, or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia. It can cause haemorrhage, shock, complications in childbirth, fistula and severe pain during sexual intercourse.

Around 27 percent of Kenyan women and girls have been circumcised, with the highest rates among the Somali, Kisii and Maasai communities.

Kenya has stepped up its fight against FGM by creating an anti-FGM Board in 2013 and an anti-FGM prosecution unit in March 2014.

(Editing by Tim Pearce; timothy.pearce@thomsonreuters.com)

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