Esther Gati is a 27-year-old woman from Kegona village, Kuria East Constituency in Migori County, many girls in her community underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) and was forced into an early marriage at the age of 14.
She has been in a constant struggle, with a mirage of challenges that have tested her resilience and strength.
“My experience with FGM began when I was nine years old. I was taken to a traditional circumciser, where I underwent the procedure without proper medical care. The pain was extreme, and I remember screaming and begging for it to stop, however, nobody was ready to listen to my plea,” said Esther.
After the procedure, she was confined to a room for two weeks and was not allowed to leave until she had healed.
At the age of 14, Esther was forced into an early marriage with a man twice her age.
She had nothing to say in the matter and was expected to be a dutiful wife, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her husband’s needs.
She was also expected to bear children, and she gave birth to her first child at the age of 16.
“My life became a cycle of poverty, abuse, and neglect, with no hope for a better future. The physical and emotional effects of FGM were severe for me, but I could not escape the pain at the moment. I experienced chronic pain and discomfort and had difficulty urinating and menstruating. Besides, I also suffered from recurrent infections, which left me weak and exhausted. “Added Esther.
The emotional toll was even worse, with feelings of shame, guilt, and trauma that lingered for years, she felt isolated and alone, with no one to turn to for help or support.
Despite the challenges she faced, Esther never gave up and she was determined to make a better life for herself and her children.
Esther started attending classes at a local school, which earned her a Diploma she also became involved in activism against FGM, speaking out against the practice and educating others about its harmful effects.
She joined a local organization that supports women and girls who have undergone FGM and has become a vocal advocate for their rights.
Today, Esther is a confident and empowered woman, who has overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve her goals.
“I am a single mother of three, and I work as a community health worker based at Kuria East Constituency helping to provide medical care and support to women and girls in my community. Besides, I am a mentor and role model for young girls, showing them that they too can break free from the cycle of poverty and abuse. “said Esther.
Esther’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of ending harmful practices like FGM and early marriage, and the need to provide support and resources to those who have been affected.
It is also a testament to the resilience and strength of women, who despite facing immense challenges, continue to fight for a better future.
The Government of Kenya has taken a strong stand against FGM and is working to eradicate the practice through various policies, programs, and partnerships.
The president of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto,was on his tour to Migori County, warned the Kuria community about carrying out Female genital mutilation and those who will village the law will face criminal charges and imprisonment
By Lijodi Silas Atika