Fighting female genital mutilation at all cost

By Elkanah Nyauma

9,156

Every Kenyan has the power and responsibility to see to it that women and girls are protected and that they enjoy and live life to the fullest. We all have the power to address this international enemy and the problems that women and girls go through when they undergo female genital mutilation. (FGM).

The Kenyan communities can engage various individuals, institutions, and other stakeholders in combating FGM. For example, pastors and local government leaders like chiefs and the police can be engaged to influence communities to change their cultural beliefs and attitudes towards the harmful evil act of FGM.

Another way to stop this practice is by having discussions around Kenya’s 2011 FGM Law that forbids Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This will help people understand the actions to take and channels available to report FGM cases.

Together, we can eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030. Doing so will have a positive ripple effect on the health, education and economic advancement of girls and women. – UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

Facts about FGM in Kenya

Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves damaging the female genitals and has no medical foundation or reasons.

Many girls are initiated in Kenya every year into adulthood, as they say, through FGM.  Some of these girls are as young as 12-years.

FGM is unhealthy and dangerous to the lives of both women and girls.

FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. (Source: WHO)

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where FGM is concentrated. (Source: WHO)

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the risk of female genital mutilation or FGM, with the UN predicting that an additional two million girls will be subjected to the practice in the next ten years. (Source: WHO)

Kenya’s Pokot people also still practise FGM. This young girl has just been cut and is now the focus of ritual acts.

Circumcisers come from as far as Tarime in neighbouring Tanzania. They engage in the act as their main livelihood

FGM practicing communities record poor performance and even school drop out making the girls not qualify for job opportunities.

Apart from poor performance, the practice affects the health of young girls and encourages early marriages among teenagers.

Some parents still support FGM and involve their children in this illegal practice because they fear they might be cursed by not honouring their culture.

UNICEF/Getachew | Pictured in Ethiopia is a 6-year-old girl who underwent FGM because her mother, believed she could not marry honourably without it, saying, “From our own experience we know that [cutting] causes problems. However, it is the tradition.”

The Opinion

There needs to be an alternative source for the circumcisers since they do it to earn like helping them to start income-generating projects or help them to start and run their own businesses to help them earn income.

Also, there need to be partnerships to integrate training and awareness forums for women, girls, parents, local authorities, and former circumcisers. These workshops will have the focus on discussions based on the FGM law and other mechanisms to end this evil in Kenya.

Examples of partner organizations include but not limited to:

UN – United Nations
UNCRC – United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund
UNDP – United Nations Development Programme
WHO – World Health Organizations
The Kenyan Banks
Equality Now
The World Bank
Girls Forum
The Orchid Project
KDHS – Kenya Demographic and Health Survey
MOH – Ministry of Health, Kenya
MYWO – Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization
NCWK – National Council of Women in Kenya
OAU – Organization of African Unity
PGI – Pastoralist Girls Initiative
RCK – Refugee Consortium of Kenya
SAIDIA – Samburu Aid in Africa
SUPKEM – Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims
SWEIP – Samburu Women Empowerment Integrated Program
SWN Samburu Women Network
AAK – Action Aid Kenya
ACRWC – African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
AMWIK – Association of Media Women in Kenya
CIPK – Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya
FIDA (K) – Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya
GCN – Girl Child Network
The SDGs Kenya Forum among others.

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