Bullied for not being circumcised

Time of article published Feb 13, 2007

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Nyeri - A Kenyan secondary school sent 20 boys home to protect them from being bullied because they were uncircumcised, the school's principal said on Tuesday.

Most of Kenya's ethnic groups carry out the practice as a transition from boyhood to manhood and consider those who are not circumcised to be "lesser men".

"The 20 boys were being subjected to bullying and all other kinds of mistreatment for not being circumcised," Fredrick Kithinji, the head of Kiriani Boys High School in Meru central Kenya, told Reuters by telephone.

"It is taboo among the Meru community for a boy to join secondary school before undergoing the operation," he added.

The age of the boys sent home from school was not immediately available, but form one boys are usually 14 or 15 years old.

Kithinji said the boys, who had just joined the school, were free to return once they had undergone the procedure and were healed.

But many parents reacted angrily to the order saying it was the administration's responsibility to protect their children from older boys.

"It was not written anywhere in the admission form that a boy has to be circumcised first before joining the school," said Gitonga Muthamia, a parent to one of the boys sent home.

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