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A 7-week Easter school break means a prolonged ‘cutting season’

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about school holidays? For many of us, it might involve spending quality time with family, playing with friends or exploring new parts of our community, country and world.

However for lots of girls — particularly those in Africa — their school holidays’ experience is staggeringly different. That’s because of the direct link between time off school and a rise of female genital cutting (FGC).

It’s commonly known as ‘cutting season’… and it’s about to begin.

To make up for time lost during the pandemic, this year’s Easter school holidays have been lengthened to 7 weeks in Kenya. Longer school holidays ultimately means that more young girls are at risk of undergoing this illegal and dangerous procedure, which despite being banned in Kenya back in 2011, is still heavily practised and affecting the lives of young girls today.

At least 200 million women and girls across the world are thought to have undergone female genital mutilation [cutting]. The practice, which involves removing and damaging female genital tissue, is common in at least 30 countries and is most prevalent in Africa.


UNICEF

“FGC is carried out for a variety of reasons. In some places, it is the belief girls must be cut to control their libido. In others, it is the perception that intact girls are dirty or ugly, or that cutting is a prerequisite for marriage. But the practice causes serious medical problems, including haemorrhage, infection, complications in childbirth and even death.” — United Nations Population Fund

At So They Can, we are deeply concerned about the incoming consequences that these prolonged school holidays will have on girls. According to research by ActionAid, around 85% of girls aged 9-13 will suffer female genital cutting in Pokot, although due to the underground nature of this illegal practice, it’s hard to definitively measure the impact on girls. 

Throughout the extended Easter school holidays, our East African team will be working closely with our Champion Mothers and Fathers to deliver community education on the dangers of FGC, as well as other retrogressive practices that abuse girls’ and children’s rights, including child marriage.

We will also be running mentorship programs to support our students — and if at any point our Champion Mothers, Fathers or team believe there is a violation of a child’s rights taking place, we will take action.

“As individuals, it’s often so hard to understand how we can make a real difference or change the course of global issues like poverty, child marriage and female genital cutting. The truth is by coming together and using our collective resources, we will change what is fundamentally unjust. At So They Can, our Education and Enhancement Programs provide the solution to many issues, including child poverty and female genital cutting. All we need now is you. By taking part in 1HumanRace or becoming a regular supporter of So They Can, you will stop cruel practices that no one, let alone a child, should ever have to experience.”


Cassandra Treadwell — Co-Founder and CEO, So They Can

Education for all. 

At So They Can, we celebrate the importance of education and the immeasurable impact it has on communities. By keeping both boys and girls in the classroom, we can create a ripple effect of change that will be felt for generations to come. 

We know that girls’ rights cannot be achieved by educating girls alone. We believe that a holistic and community-wide approach to education is the most effective and sustainable driver of change. This is why our Education Program includes a number of essential projects that champion childs’ rights as an empowering and inclusive education for all. Learn more about our life-changing education projects.

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