Kallestein: The Cut

Midwifery Today, 2009, issue 90

The Cut

Kallestein LM


I was just about to witness a young girl have her genitals cut off at the hand of her mother. Intentionally. With a razor blade. The government official, who should have prevented it from happening, smiled his semi-toothless smile at me, from outside the boma (homestead).

The chief respected the traditional law of no men allowed inside the ring of mud huts during the ceremony. He had no respect for the crime against Kenyan law that was about to take place, or the gross violation of basic human rights—a violent act against a helpless child…

The razor blade reflected the rays of the rising sun.

All around were smiles and hushed laughter. Expectations. The main focus for most of the people standing in and around the boma was to get it over with, but not out of sympathy for 14-year-old Mary, who stood shivering as the sun made its way above the horizon. They simply couldn’t wait for it to be party time.

And my role in all of this? I was the guest of honor….

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