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PAN AFRICAN NEWS MEDIA

PAN AFRICAN NEWS MEDIA

The Silent Struggle: FGM Dragon in Kuria community, Kenya



Introduction to FGM in Kuria community


Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This practice is typically carried out on young girls before puberty. FGM in the Kuria community is a deeply rooted cultural practice. This practice is primarily carried out on young girls, often between infancy and adolescence, and is considered a rite of passage into womanhood.

 FGM holds significant cultural significance within the Kuria community, where it is viewed as a symbol of purity, chastity, and readiness for marriage. It is often associated with social acceptance, enhancing a girl's eligibility for marriage, and ensuring family honor.


FGM in the Kuria community is performed for various reasons, including cultural tradition, social acceptance, and beliefs about femininity and virtue. It is often carried out by traditional practitioners using crude tools and without anesthesia, leading to severe physical and psychological consequences for the girls and women subjected to it. These consequences can include chronic pain, infections, and complications during childbirth, and long-term psychological trauma.


Physical and emotional


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) inflicts both immediate and long-term physical and emotional repercussions on girls and women subjected to it. In the short term, immediately after the procedure, victims often experience intense pain, shock, and trauma. The physical consequences can include severe bleeding, infections, urinary problems, and even death in extreme cases. The emotional impact can lead to feelings of fear, helplessness, and betrayal, as FGM is often performed without consent and in violation of human rights.

In the long term, the physical effects can persist and worsen, leading to chronic pain, complications during childbirth, and increased risk of infections such as HIV. FGM can also result in psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and difficulties with intimacy and sexual relationships. Moreover, the trauma of FGM can have intergenerational effects, perpetuating cycles of abuse and harm within families and communities.


Furthermore, FGM can have broader societal implications, contributing to gender inequality, restricting women's autonomy and agency over their bodies, and perpetuating harmful cultural practices. Addressing the short-term and long-term effects of FGM requires comprehensive approaches that involve education, community engagement, legal frameworks, and access to healthcare services. Efforts to eradicate


Social and economic imprecations of FGM

The practice showcases gender inequality and reinforces very harmful patriarchal norms within the Kuria community. Victims are always subjected to early marriage, since the process is considered a passage of life, denying them the opportunity to pursue education and fulfil their life aspirations.  This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and dependence, trapping girls to the margins of marginalization and oppressions. FGM portrays a bad character, the belief that women exists solely for the pleasure and control of men.


Efforts to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Efforts to eradicate FGM in Kuria, where this practice is prevalent, have involved a multi-faceted approach by various stakeholders including NGOs, community leaders, and government agencies. The aim has been to raise awareness, change attitudes, and implement policies to eliminate this harmful practice.


NGO Initiatives

NGOs like the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) and the Girl Child Network have been instrumental in anti-FGM campaigns in Kuria. They have conducted awareness programs, workshops, and educational sessions to educate communities about the health risks and human rights violations associated with FGM. These NGOs often work closely with local activists and community members to challenge cultural beliefs that perpetuate FGM.


Community Leaders

Local leaders among Rhobi Samwelly who is the founder of Hope for Girls and Women, elders and influential figures within Kuria communities, play a crucial role in shifting attitudes towards FGM. Many leaders have been actively involved in awareness campaigns, advocating for alternative rites of passage that do not involve FGM. Their endorsement and participation in anti-FGM efforts have helped to reduce the social acceptance of the practice.


Government Agencies

Government agencies such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development, County government of Migori have implemented policies and legal frameworks aimed at combating FGM. These include laws that criminalize FGM and provide support for victims. Government health workers have been trained to recognize and report cases of FGM, ensuring that survivors receive medical and psychological support.


Awareness Campaigns

Collaborative efforts between NGOs, government agencies, and community leaders among Doris Anyango Beryll have led to extensive awareness campaigns across Kuria. These campaigns use various mediums such as radio broadcasts, community meetings, and school programs to disseminate information about the dangers of FGM. They also promote dialogue within families and communities to challenge deep-rooted beliefs.


Alternative Rites of Passage

One effective strategy has been the promotion of alternative rites of passage ceremonies, which celebrate girls' transition to womanhood without subjecting them to FGM. These ceremonies often involve educational components that emphasize reproductive health, life skills, and gender equality.


Legal Enforcement

The enforcement of laws against FGM has been another critical aspect of eradication efforts. By making FGM illegal and punishable by law, governments in Kenya and local authorities have sent a strong message against the practice, discouraging its continuation.


Survivor’s stories

There are various survivors who have given their stories and experiences on FGM. Among them include:

Agnes Pareyio: Agnes is a Maasai woman from Kenya who survived FGM as a child. She later became a teacher and then an activist against FGM. She founded the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative, which rescues girls from FGM and provides them with education and support.


Jaha Dukureh: Jaha underwent FGM as a baby in Gambia. After moving to the United States, she became a leading activist against FGM. She founded Safe Hands for Girls, an organization that raises awareness about FGM and advocates for its elimination.


Global Context

Prevalence

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it's estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM across 30 countries, primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.


Legislation and Awareness

Efforts to end FGM have been made through international conventions, national laws, and community awareness programs. The practice is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights and is outlawed in many countries. International institutions play a critical role in addressing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by advocating for its eradication, supporting affected communities, and promoting policy changes. Organizations like the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) collaborate to raise awareness, gather data, and implement strategies to combat FGM.


They work to strengthen legal frameworks, provide medical and psychological support to survivors, engage with local leaders and communities, and promote education and empowerment programs to change social norms and eliminate FGM. These institutions also monitor progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically targeting the elimination of harmful practices like FGM by 2030. Through advocacy, research, and partnerships, international institutions contribute significantly to the global effort to end FGM and safeguard the rights and well-being of women and girls worldwide.


Call for Action


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice that violates the rights of women and girls. It poses serious physical, emotional, and psychological risks, often leading to long-term health complications and trauma.  To end this egregious violation of human rights, urgent action is needed. Governments must enforce strict laws against FGM and provide resources for education and awareness campaigns aimed at communities where FGM is prevalent.

 Healthcare professionals should receive training to recognize and report cases of FGM, and support services must be expanded to assist survivors.

 We must all raise our voices and advocate for the elimination of FGM, ensuring that every girl and woman can live free from this form of violence and discrimination. Join the call to action against FGM today.

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