WHOlives asks for help to transform children’s courthouse, empower young Kenyan girls

July 5, 2023

The nonprofit WHOlives is committed to rebuilding the children’s courthouse in Kuria, Kenya, to help cement the monumental progress in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM). The upgrades and the new design will make it easier and more comfortable for young girls to testify against their abusers, who are often family members.

WHOlives field manager Jimmy Mukundi (right) tours the children’s courthouse in Kuria, Kenya, with a local magistrate and police official.

The organization is urgently working to raise $100,000 for the construction project and other efforts to end FGM in southwest Kenya, where a large percentage of girls have traditionally been cut between the ages of 9 and 14. The next cutting seasons are quickly approaching in August and December.

WHOlives has already supported more than 50 arrests, 30 convictions and 2,000 rescues from the cutting season that ended in early 2023. The nonprofit continues to send gas money so that local authorities can investigate more crimes against women and so that witnesses can travel to court, which is crucial to securing convictions. Additional funding supports the school fees for girls who’ve been forced to run away from their homes to escape FGM.

All of these efforts are sending a strong message throughout the community that the illegal practice of FGM must end, that police and judges are well-equipped to carry out justice and that perpetrators will be punished.

The existing courthouse is in horrible shape, with the ceiling caving in, so currently, children are testifying elsewhere in front of their rapists and abusers, which is intimidating and terrifying for them. 

The redesign will allow girls to testify through a video feed rather than being in the same room as those who’ve harmed and threatened them.

This dedicated courthouse will be thoughtfully designed, with child-friendly waiting areas, calming spaces and specialized support staff who are trained to handle the unique needs of young witnesses. The work also includes a new roof and artwork that appeals to kids.

It takes courage for a young girl to take a stand against an adult, like her father, uncle or neighbor. Justice is key for their safety and for their community to truly begin the mindset shifts that will allow greater respect for girls and women.

Without the public’s help, the work of ending FGM in Kenya will suffer a major setback. Girls could be returned to their homes to face unspeakable abuse. 

People who’d like to contribute can text ENDFGM to 71777. They can also donate at WHOlives.org or by calling 888-675-4837.

Kuria is at a tipping point for the first time. WHOlives is close to eradicating FGM in this region. Generous donors have joined the fight and given $19,000 so far this year. This additional $100,000 will help deliver the final blow, supporting survivors and empowering the next generation of strong women. The time is now.