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.

female genital mutilation
Girls from the Pokot tribe 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, KenyaSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
The girls sit inside a hut and wait for their circumcision ceremony to beginSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
The girls are encouraged to leave their hut and make their way to their circumcision ceremonySiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
The girls squat on rocks after being stripped and washed before being circumcisedSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A Pokot woman performs a circumcision on a girlSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girlsSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A girl bleeds onto a rock after being circumcisedSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A girl cries after being circumcised in a tribal rite of passageSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A girl is smeared with white paint after being circumcisedSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
A Pokot girl covered in animal skins walks to a place where she will rest after being circumcised in a tribal ritualSiegfried Modola/Reuters
female genital mutilation
Wrapped in animal skins, girls are taken to a place where they will rest after being circumcisedSiegfried Modola/Reuters

Every ten seconds, a girl is put though female genital mutilation. Girls are among the most vulnerable people in the world, and 125 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM – most of them before the age of 15.

Despite being outlawed in most countries, the practice is still widely performed across Africa, the Middle East and Indonesia.