Hundreds of Kenyan girls are preparing to spend Christmas in schools, rather than with their families, fearing that their parents will force them to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
Schools that should have closed more than a month ago for the holidays are staying open for the girls, while others are staying in churches in north-western Pokot County.
Alice Jebet, 14, says there are financial, as well as cultural reasons, why so many parents support the practice:
“My parents force us to undergo FGM because they want dowry. When girls are circumcised, their parents have already arranged for them to be married off.”
“When they finish the initiation, their parents introduce them to their husband, whose family gives them cows as dowry,” she tells the BBC.
Despite the introduction of stiff penalties for offenders after FGM was made illegal in 2011, the practice continues in many parts of Kenya.
Girls are most at risk during the December holidays, traditionally a time for initiation rites for both boys and girls.
Headteachers have been told to accommodate the girls and to ensure they attend classes throughout the year, to prevent them being married off at a very young age or forced to undergo FGM in secret.
One in five women in Kenya between the ages of 15-49 are circumcised, according to government figures.
There is also a worrying trend towards younger and younger girls being forced to undergo the procedure.
Of women in their early 20s who were circumcised, around a quarter of them said they underwent the procedure when they were between five and nine years old, according to a recent report from the country’s bureau of statistics.