Last Friday, I posted the following on my Facebook timeline:
Every February 6th is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. In Kenya, this year’s national celebrations will be held in Sankuri location, Garissa County.
The theme of the celebrations is “Working Together to End FGM by 2030”.
Ending FGM, My Responsibility.
As I was preparing to go home having finished the day’s work, a male colleague came to my desk and we somehow found ourselves taking about the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM as I had posted. Being aware of the fact that he comes from a community that largely practices FGM, I asked him if he thinks it is possible to stop the menace- his answer left me with a toothache.
‘This thing will not end soon Lourdes. People are coming up with creative ways of doing FGM every other day. For example doing it at a younger age to reduce public scrutiny while taking advantage of the child’s inability to resist and because there must be a form of celebration, it is done in the disguise of a birthday party and only very close family members are aware of the real celebration’
I looked him straight in the eye and asked, ‘would you allow your daughter to undergo the cut?’
His answer left me with a bitter taste in the mouth.
‘We are not talking about me here but again, what would I do? Remember she has a mother and even if I resist, her mother will report me to our family members thus turn me against them. I will look like the bad one here- if she insists, I will just have to corporate for peace sake’
This clearly explained why urban women are more likely to be circumcised at the youngest age range of 5-9 years than rural women.
According to UNICEF, 9.3 million women and girls, or 27 per cent of all women and girls in Kenya, have undergone genital mutilation, placing Kenya 17th among the 29 countries in Africa that carry out the practice.
As the world marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, statistics reveal the war against the practice is far from over, with a trend over time to circumcise girls at increasingly younger ages. In some parts of the country, infant FGM is being practiced on days-old girls. This is because they want to keep it a secret and therefore do it fast enough before the law catches up with them.
FGM causes significant health risks including bleeding, infections, and fistula, complications during sexual intercourse and childbirth, and even death.
To preserve our next generation, this should be the rallying call: ‘Ending FGM, My Responsibility’
Statistics courtesy of The Daily Nation