A Group Of Kenyan Teens Are Tackling Female Genital Mutilation With An App

i-Cut will help connect girls affected to legal and medical assistance

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Over 200 million of women and girls around the world have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), yet one of the few positives in recent years has been an increased awareness of the practice.

Could the next step be total eradication? The notion feels far-fetched right now, but a group of Kenyan teenagers have invented an app which they hope will do just that.

i-Cut will help connect girls affected by FGM to legal and medical assistance, while those forced to undergo the procedure can also press a panic button to alert local authorities.

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The five teenagers, aged 15 to 17, entered their idea into this year's international Technovation competition, which challenges girls to create an app that solves problems faced by their communities. They are the only Africans participating and will soon be flying to California for a chance to win $15,000 (£11,350).

'FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve,' Stacy Owino, one of the students, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Owino is joined by Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno and Ivy Akinyi, and together the girls' have named themselves 'The Restorers' because they want to 'restore hope to hopeless girls'.

The app is simple to use and will feature five buttons - help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback – depending on the service you need.

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'This app a good way of getting people to talk about FGM,' Dorcas Adhiambo Owino, the group's mentor and Kenya's Technovation program lead, told CNN.

'It is a conversation starter and that shows anyone can be involved in the fight against FGM.'

Despite being illegal, Kenya still reports a high number of FGM cases. One in four Kenyan women and girls have undergone the practice, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia.

The girls' Luo community, in the western city of Kisumu, doesn't actually practise FGM but they know people, and have friends, who have been cut.

'We were very close but after she was cut she never came back to school,' Achieng told Thomson Reuters Foundation. 'She was among the smartest girls I knew.'

Technovation is sponsored by Google, Verizon and the United Nations, and aims to teach girls the skills they need to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders.

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