Target: Samuel Kunita Ole Tunai, Governor of Narok, Kenya
Goal: Stop forcing girls to undergo involuntary gynecological testing.
The Kenyan government has sanctioned the assault of school girls via involuntary medical examinations. In a stated effort to prevent teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation, all school-age girls from Narok will be required to undergo physical examinations of their genitals. These invasive tactics will not curtail abuse but rather will victimize innocent children.
The exams will be used to identify any girls who are pregnant or who have undergone the mutilation procedures once common in Kenya. The test alone invades these young girls’ privacy and very likely retraumatizes those who have endured some form of abuse. Rather than offer the psychological and social support pregnant or mutilated girls will need, those identified will instead by subjected to mandatory police questioning. If the girl is pregnant, she will be pressured into naming the father of her baby. Identification, interrogation, and exclusion replace empathy and compassionate involvement as the primary goals. Worse yet, these girls may face expulsion from school, which in essence puts them on trial with the condemnation of potential social isolation.
Teen pregnancies and long-entrenched cultural customs will not be alleviated with damaging, authoritarian approaches. Sign this petition to encourage a more humane approach that does not come at the expense of vulnerable children.
Dear Governor Tuna,
The banning of female genital mutilation and the concern about rising rates of teen pregnancy are promising progressions for Kenya. Narok’s proposed remedy for these social ills represents a dangerous step backward, however. Subjecting schoolgirls to mandatory genitalia examinations will only compound their victimization and undermine their dignity and self-worth.
Young girls affected by either FGM or pregnancy will not receive the support and empathetic involvement that will truly benefit them. Rather, they will be subjected to intensive questioning and coercion that will inevitably assign them the role of ‘accused.’ They will also likely endure exclusion from the families, friends, and school systems that are often their lifelines.
Do not victimize these children. Treat them with the compassion they need and adopt an educational, support-centered approach that will help these girls, not irreparably harm them.
Sincerely, [Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: USAID Africa Bureau