By Khaleda Rahman for MailOnline. These pictures show frightened girls lined up before villagers in Kenya to be circumcised - even though the brutal practice is now illegal in the country. But in many African tribes, traditions are more important than laws and circumcision is considered a rite of passage that marks their transition into womanhood so they can marry.
Reuters photographer Siegfried Modola captured this ceremony in rural Kenya for four teenage girls of the Pokot tribe, in Baringo County. Draped in animal skin and covered in white paint, the girls squat over large stones in the remote village after being circumcised - a life-threatening custom banned in the country three years ago.
Tearful: One of the young girls, covered in an animal skin, cries after being circumcised. The practice was outlawed three years ago. Frightened: Four young Pokot girls stand outside one of the girl's homes just before the beginning of their circumcision ceremony.
Adorned: After the ceremony, the girls, now covered in animal skins and beaded necklaces, walk to where they will rest after the tribal ritual. Painted: After the ritual, the girls faces are painted white to show they have been circumcised and transitioned into womanhood. Scared: One girl, after her ceremony, walks to a resting place covered in an animal skin in the remote village of Pokot in Baringo County.
More than a quarter of Kenyan women have undergone the ordeal, despite government efforts to end the practice in the East African country. It's a girl's transition into womanhood,' he said.
Wrapped in bright coloured shawls, the girls spent the night huddled around a fire in a thatched-roof house as local women gathered to sing and dance in support. One woman fell into a trance after sipping a local wine. Circumcision is heavily practiced among the Pokot community, and one of the girls' mothers believes it is a sign of strength. She can show the rest of the community that she can endure it,' the woman said after having her daughter circumcised by a Pokot elder donning a beaded neck collar and large brass earrings.
Tradition: Despite a government ban on the practice, circumcision remains a rite of passage, particularly among poor families in rural areas. Smeared: Village elders cover a young girl's face in white paint after she is circumcised, a requirement for young girls before they can marry. Rampant: More than a quarter of women in Kenya have been circumcised, despite the government making the practice illegal in At its most extreme, circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, involves cutting off the clitoris and external genitalia, then stitching the vagina to reduce a woman's sexual desire.
Anything from razor blades to broken glass and scissors is used. The U. Kenyan law provides for life imprisonment when a girl dies from the procedure, which in addition to excruciating pain, can cause haemorrhage, shock and complications in childbirth.
It set up a prosecution unit in March and is currently investigating 50 cases. Officials are optimistic they can force a change in attitude but still worry that the practice is too ingrained for legal threats to have an impact. You will keep quiet and you will not report it - if you do, you face reprisal. Still, Nanjala was optimistic that genital cutting would be eventually wiped out. Naked: Draped in animal skins, the Pokot girls sit naked on rocks before village elders perform the ritual. Wait: The Pokot girls wait in their homes to be circumcised.
Members of the Pokot tribe gather round a fire before the ceremony, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County. Kenyan law gives life imprisonment when a girl dies from the procedure, which can cause haemorrhage, shock and complications in childbirth.
A prosecution unit against genital cutting was set up in March and is currently investigating 50 cases. Pictured, the Pokot girls in a hut. Preparation: Pokot women place large stones where girls will be seated to undergo their circumcision rite. Pokot girls are encouraged to leave their hut and make their way to a place where they will take off their clothes and wash during the ceremony. Pokot girls run from their hut and make their way to a place where they will take off their clothes and wash during their circumcision ceremony.
Village elders push a young girl out of a hut to take her to the place where her circumcision will be performed. A Pokot girl bleeds onto a rock after being circumcised in a tribal ritual. In addition to excruciating pain, can cause haemorrhage, shock and complications in childbirth. Ceremony: After the procedure, a Pokot girl is smeared with white paint to show she has undergone the rite of passage.
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls. Practitioners use anything from broken glass to scissors. A Pokot woman performs a circumcision on a girl in a village. Although the government has banned it, the practice is rife in rural communities. More than a quarter of girls and women in Kenya have undergone genital cutting, according to United Nations data.
The Pokot girls, covered with animal skins, squat on rocks after being stripped naked and washed during their circumcision rite. Strength: One mother said the pain would make her daughter strong. Inside a hut, the Pokot girls sit and wait for their circumcision ceremony. At its worst, the rite involves cutting off the clitoris and outer genitalia. Trance: A Pokot woman falls into a trance after drinking a local brew and dancing during a female circumcision ceremony. Rest: Pokot women and children rest by a fire during the early hours of the morning as they wait for the beginning of a circumcision ceremony.
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