15 boys die during botched circumcision in Uasin Gishu

Many initiates who undergo circumcision in early December are expected to have healed and preparing to resume their studies when schools open.

However, a number of them are still nursing injuries occasioned by botched circumcision even as more than 15 boys from Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu Counties are said to have succumbed to complications related to circumcision.

This worrying trend has caused concern among the health practitioners and custodians of culture who want the circumcision process and the environment where it is performed to be reviewed.

At Burnt Forest Sub-County Hospital on the outskirts of Eldoret town, Fredrick Kipkoech Bett undergoes medication after complications that result while in seclusion. It is said one man punished him as a way of hardening him into a man.

” Normally they are trained on the culture and traditions of the Kalenjin people. When the child is released, he is a man who is ready for work,” Fredrick’s father, Emmanuel Bett said.

But the punishment seemed to have been so severe for Fredrick who had other underlying conditions. The father now wants to take action against the offender.

” After he was beaten, he got an infection that has spread to his kidneys. His doctor has written a report in which he said this is a police case,” Emmanuel said.

But even as Fredrick continues with his medication, 15 others are reported to have lost their lives in Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties with more than 50 having been admitted at various health facilities.

In Uasin Gishu County, a task force has been formed to look into the issue of botched circumcision and the possible interventions to make it safer for the initiates.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor John Barorot said, “It is sad that we have lost 10 boys during this circumcision rite and I believe it will culminate in coming up with the best ways of ensuring that our boys are circumcised in the right ways.”

His sentiments were echoed by the county’s Health CECM Abraham Serem who said, ” We will have a policy direction that will guide us into the circumcision rites.”

These alarming deaths have rattled Luhya and Kalenjin elders who are the custodians of these cultures.

Ramadhan Ali, a Luhya spokesman in Uasin Gishu said, “If children must be circumcised traditionally, then we as Luhya and Kalenjin elders should make sure we pick people who are qualified”

James Atsango, Luhya community chairman said children should not have to lose their lives because of traditions.

Retired Major John Seii, a Kalenjin Council Of Elders said, “If you lose a young man under seclusion in the olden days elders would be called to cleanse the place because death makes the place unclean. We have seen a lot of bad things in this season, ending December 2023. Come 2024, the elders will meet and give way forward. We will give instructions of who is supposed to take care of these young men and when we standardise that things are going to be okay.”

Health experts and elders have called on parents to give full disclosure of their children’s health  conditions before going into seclusion shrines to avert such incidents ”

The task at hand now is how to ensure that culture is passed down to different generations but in a manner that does not jeopardize the initiates’ safety.

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