Feature: Kenyan teenage girls develop mobile app to fight female genital cut

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-02 21:47:12|Editor: Song Lifang
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KISUMU, Kenya, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Five girls from the western Kenyan city of Kisumu have developed a mobile application that is set to revolutionize the war against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) widely practiced in the country.

The slick mobile application called I-cut has been developed by the teenage girls aged 15 to 17 years who are expected to travel to California, the United States, next week in the hope of winning 15,000 U.S. dollars for their effort.

The Kisumu girls are the only Africans selected to take part in this year's international Technovation competition, which attracts cutting edge innovations that solve endemic challenges in society.

Dickson Otieno, the project coordinator of Kisumu based Lakehub and the girls' mentor, said they were adequately prepared to solve female genital mutilation crisis in many Kenyan communities.

Otieno said the girls have undergone rigorous mentorship to refine their mobile application and make it user-friendly.

"The girls learnt the basics of developing a mobile application during a three months training course conducted by pioneers in the field of innovation," Otieno told Xinhua.

He said the girls whose names are, Purity Achieng, Cynthia Otieno, Stacy Owino, Macrine Atieno and Ivy Akinyi have already worked on a business plan and hope to use the 15,000 dollar prize in rolling out the application and offering alternative rites of passage.

"There's a myth that Nyanza region has no communities that practice female genital cut yet it is rampant. One of the five girls who developed the mobile application had a friend from a community that practice this abhorrent rite of passage discreetly," Otieno remarked.

He revealed the innovative girls have already identified several non-governmental organizations that are ready to partner with them in their mission to eradicate female genital cut.

Otieno said these non-governmental organizations are listed on the mobile application and can easily be contacted by whistle blowers reporting cases of girls forced by elders to undergo the cut.

President Uhuru Kenyatta early this week hosted the five girls and promised them support in their endeavor to eliminate outdated cultural practices like female genital cut.

The I-cut mobile application connects girls at risk of circumcision with rescue centers and gives legal and medical help to those who have been subjected to the procedure.

The application's simple interface has five buttons -- help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback -- offering users different services.

Kenya is among African countries where female genital cut is rampant despite robust legislation and public awareness to end the practice.

The 2008-2009 Kenyan Demographic Health Survey (DHS) revealed the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the country stood at 27.1 percent.