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Gains Made Against FGM Lost During Lockdowns 

The campaign to stop the mutilation of the genitalia of hundreds of girls at the end of next month, when schools close for Easter, is in full swing here. School holidays are when the cuttings happen, on girls from six upwards. The longer the holiday, the more girls who will be cut, and from March schools are closed for seven weeks. The Christmas holidays took everyone involved in the anti-FGM movement here by surprise – cutting ceremonies began at scale in town centres all over Kuria, on the Kenyan border with Tanzania, enabled by a lack of law enforcement thanks to the Covid lockdown. Despite the passion of the volunteers advocating against FGM, the activists talking on every local radio station about the terrible mental and physical toll, the committees, the legislation, and even the Kenyan president decrying the illegal practice, the pull and power of tradition is strong, and it is hard to be shunned by neighbours and family in a small place where life is tough.