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"Kaot Blo Gel": A Woman's Rite of Passage Celebrated by the Tanna People

I was recently invited to attend a kastom (traditional) Tanna rite of passage known as kaot blo gel, a misleading title that translates to “female circumcision” with kaot being a local Tanna language word for circumcision.

In reality, the ceremony is a rite of passage celebrating a girl's first period and doesn't involve removing or cutting any parts of the genitalia. Since a circumcision ceremony takes place in Tanna for boys (usually between 8 and 12 years old) that symbolizes their transition into manhood, this one reflects a girl’s passage to womanhood.

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