Gender based violence comes in many forms, but during her current trip to Pokot, it has become increasing clear to Beyond FGM founder, Cath Holland, that FGM and Forced Marriage are not only symptoms of the same problem, but arise again and again as part of an interconnected set of challenges which too many young women are having to face.
These young women and girls do not have the luxury of dealing with the crimes against them as separate and discreet issues. Instead, young girls experience early forced marriage and FGM as overwhelming, messy and complex crises, which for many of us would be incomprehensible during our adult life, never mind as marginalised teenagers.
Yet there is a 15 year old girl whom Beyond FGM and Kepsteno Rotwo are extremely concerned about.
This girl was forced in to marriage, became pregnant, was subjected to cutting while pregnant, and consequently required a caesarian section to safely deliver her child.
After becoming a mother, her ‘husband’ continued to abuse her. It is believed this abuse was psychological, and it is possible it was physical also. It is little surprise that, still a child herself, she ran away.
Although taken in by a supporter of Beyond FGM and Kepsteno Rotwo, she was forced to flee again when this family feared for their own safety. Their kindness and humanity in offering her shelter was rewarded by the terror inflicted by the ‘husband’ and his gang, believing their lives were in danger. The gang is reported to have appeared, complaining about the number of cows exchanged for the marriage to take place, and making threats.
Her father told the gang to beat the girl when she is found.
It has recently been confirmed that she has been sent back to her forced marriage, and it is with deep sadness that Beyond FGM and Kepsteno Rotwo, nor anyone else, has been able to provide this 15 year old mother with sanctuary.
It is cases like these that show how desperate we are to provide such a shelter. Our current project to build a Rescue Centre/Safe House in Pokot is underway.The foundations and walls are ready but we are now appealing for donations to complete the structure and build the roof. Please go to the BUY A BRICK CAMPAIGN page, even the smallest donation will help to make a big difference to vulnerable girls who try to break for freedom, but who lack that safe haven at the end of their journey. It is too late for some. But there are many other girls who can be saved with your help.