Five teen girls from Kenya’s western city of Kismu who call themselves “The Restorers” are taking a stand to end female genital mutilation (FGM) with their innovative cell phone app.
The app, known as i-Cut, is a program that allows girls to call for help, seek assistance, and report abuse to reputable law enforcement organizations. When utilized by a user, the app connects her with the legal, medical, and therapeutic counselling and resources required at the touch of a button.
At least 200 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation or FGM in 30 countries, reports UNICEF. 44 million of these, are14 and younger. The practice involves cutting out all or part of a woman’s clitoris, which is said to eliminate almost completely a woman’s sexual pleasure, in hopes of ensuring her virginity and keeping her faithful in marriage.
“The pain of having your clitoris cut just because someone wants to have you go through a ‘rite of passage,’” said Achieng, one of the five teens who designed the app, during her pitch at the competition. “It’s painful and no one wants to listen to you. You cry and there you are, almost dying but nobody is caring about that.”
The Kenyan girls in this competition have not experienced FGM firsthand, as their tribe does not practice it, but they have friends who have. The girls’ own community has denounced the practice of FGM, but since the tradition is deeply embedded in the social structure of many African villages, some Kenyan women are still subjected to the “rite of passage”.
Other teams in the international event came from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Cambodia, the U.S. and other countries. The Restorers were the only team who qualified from the African continent.
The Restorers did not win the Technovation Challenge, but they will continue their fight against FGM and hope to get i-Cut into the Google Play Store soon.