MEET THE POKOT is a photo essay created together with the award-winning documentary “EXCISION” on Female Genital Mutilation (FGMC) in Kenya.
The Pokot are shepherds and nomads, living in the south of the vast Rift Valley in Kenya, an area remote, barren and secluded. The Pokot hold close to their ancient traditions, as they continue to shape their culture and social life. They survive deprived of basic necessities such as clean drinking water, sanitation, sufficient food and access to education.
The Pokot belong to the tribes who, until recently, practiced FGM/C (Female Genital Mutilation / Cut). For the Pokots, the practice is a rite of passage to adulthood. The practice is said to test the strength and endurance of the girls to the hardships of the mature Pokot life.
Before undergoing FGM, the girls are not allowed to participate in social events and are considered unworthy to speak, act and decide for themselves. Social pressure among piers is strong. Those who have undergone the practice, wear traditional bids, symbolizing their courage and worthiness as accepted members of the tribe.
Impactful initiatives and alternative rites against FGM/C are taking place, although its complete eradication is yet to come.
It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women today have undergone FGM/C. Furthermore, close to 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the practice every year.
The majority of girls go through the process before they turn 15 years old.
Women in most countries with available data believe FGM/C should end and there has been an overall decline in the prevalence of the practice over the last three decades, but not all countries have made progress and the pace of decline has been uneven.
* FGM/C term refers to all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
** This personal project was created while filming the awarded documentary “Excision” on FGM/C for ActionAid.
2013 © Vicky Markolefa