Tradition defies law

Reuters photographer Siegfried Modola gained access to a circumcision ceremony in rural Kenya for young girls of the Pokot tribe, in Baringo County.
The traditional practice of circumcision is a rite of passage that marks the transition to womanhood and is a requirement for all girls of the tribe before they marry.
More than a quarter of girls and women in Kenya have undergone genital cutting, according to United Nations data. Despite a government ban on the life-threatening practice since 2011, the long-standing tradition remains a rite of passage for girls, particularly among poor families in rural areas. [26 photos total]

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1
A Pokot girl, covered in animal skins, walks to a place where she will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
2
Pokot girls walk towards their homes prior to the beginning of their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, October 16, 2014. The traditional practice of circumcision within the Pokot tribe is a rite of passage that marks the transition to womanhood and is a requirement for all girls before they marry. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
3
Pokot girls stand outside one of the girl's homes prior to the beginning of their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. More than a quarter of girls and women in Kenya have undergone genital cutting, according to United Nations data. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Pokot girls wait together in a home before their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. Despite a government ban on the life-threatening practice since 2011, the long-standing tradition remains a rite of passage, particularly among poor families in rural areas. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot woman falls into a trance after drinking a local brew and dancing during a female circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Members of the Pokot tribe gather round a fire before a female circumcision ceremony, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Members of the Pokot tribe gather round a fire before a female circumcision ceremony, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Pokot girls sit inside a hut during their circumcision ceremony, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Pokot women and children rest by a fire during the early hours of the morning as they wait for the beginning of a circumcision ceremony, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, Kenya, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Pokot women place stones where girls will be seated to undergo their circumcision rite, about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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Pokot girls are encouraged to leave their hut and make their way to a place where they will take off their clothes and wash during their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
12
Pokot girls are encouraged to leave their hut and make their way to a place where they will take off their clothes and wash during their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
13
Pokot girls run from their hut and make their way to a place where they will take off their clothes and wash during their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
14
Pokot girls, draped in animal skins, sit on rocks during their circumcision ceremony in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot girl cries after being circumcised in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot woman performs a circumcision on a girl in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot girl is smeared with white paint after being circumcised in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot girl is smeared with a white paint after being circumcised in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
20
Pokot girls covered with animal skins squat on rocks after being stripped naked and washed during their circumcision rite in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
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A Pokot girl bleeds onto a rock after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
22
A Pokot girl, covered in animal skins, walks to a place where she can rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
23
Pokot girls, covered in animal skins, walk to a place where they will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
24
Pokot girls, covered in animal skins, walk to a place where they will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
25
A Pokot girl, covered in animal skins, walks to a place where she will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #
26
A Pokot girl, covered in animal skins, walks to a place where she will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritual in a village about 80 kilometres from the town of Marigat in Baringo County, October 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola) #

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