The best friends who escaped FGM | ActionAid UK

The best friends who escaped FGM

Everyone’s got a best friend, right? And you’d probably do anything for them. I know I’d certainly do anything for mine. But I’ve never had to help my best friend escape real danger – which is exactly what 14-year-old Abigail did for Purity in Kenya.

Students Abigail (right) and Purity (left) in class at the ActionAid-supported safe house in West Pokot, Kenya.
Students Abigail (right) and Purity (left) in class at the ActionAid-supported safe house in West Pokot, Kenya.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a devastating practice which can cause severe bleeding, infertility and even death. When she knew she was about to be cut, Abigail ran away. Escaping meant she had to leave her home, her family and her best friend Purity.

Abigail took refuge in an ActionAid safe house for girls at risk of FGM and early marriage. She told us, “It wasn’t difficult to make the decision to run away. After FGM, I would get married off and have complications during child birth.”

But Abigail couldn't forget about Purity.

Helping Purity escape FGM

Abigail said: “Purity was my best friend. I didn’t want her to go through FGM. I wanted her to join me in school. After seeing the kind of life that girls who endure FGM are leading I really didn’t want Purity to go through such a life”.

Running away was step into the unknown

Purity was terrified of having FGM. She said: “I have many friends and neighbours who have undergone FGM, some of them have bled to death. One of my neighbours bled to death. After the cut, she was still bleeding and when she was taken to hospital, she didn’t make it.”

Abigail met Purity, and told her about the ActionAid safe house where she was living. She encouraged her friend to run away before she was forced to have FGM. Even though miles of rocky, deserted road lay between Purity and the safe house, Purity said she had to do it because she was running for her life.

“When I was told that I wasn’t going to school anymore, I decided to run for good. I really didn’t care what would happen to me when I ran away from home because I didn’t want to bleed to death, I’d rather risk death on the way than be subjected to FGM."

United at school

Happily, Abigail and Purity were finally reunited at the ActionAid safe house.

Both girls are now enjoying school, where they can learn and play with their new friends too.

Abigail and Purity read in their room at the ActionAid safe house.

Friends are still at risk

But school has just broken up in Kenya, which is the beginning of the ‘cutting season’ when thousands of girls like Abigail and Purity are put at risk of FGM.

ActionAid is working in the one of the worst hit areas of Kenya – Kongelai – where 75% of girls are at risk of undergoing FGM. We desperately need to build more safe houses, like the one where Abigail and Purity found sanctuary.

Please help us today. Your donation will help us keep girls in school and wipe out FGM in this region, for good.

Donate to support our safe houses for girls in Kenya

Photo credits: Ashley Hamer/ActionAid