What You Should Know About FGM and Why It’s Practised
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving total or partial removal of the female external genitalia or another injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The practice is common among the nomadic communities in Kenya, especially the Maasai and it is estimated that more than 4 million girls and women have undergone FGM in Kenya.
The exact number of girls and women who have undergone FGM worldwide remains unknown.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) 200 million girls and women have faced the cut in 31 countries.
FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights and is condemned by many International treaties and conventions as well as by National legislation in many countries.
In Kenya, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2011) was passed on 30 September 2011 and enforced on 4 October 2011 where the legislation imposed harsh penalties on those involved in cutting girls and women.
Speaking to the press in Embu County, Chief Executive Officer Bernadette Loloju of the anti-FGM board said the board had been instituted to fight the practice which had no proven health benefits for girls and women.
“Over 4 million women have undergone FGM in Kenya, many of these women and girls were forced to undergo this without their consent, and were forced to accept that pain is part of life, this however, has no proven health benefits, “said Loloju.
According to statistics by UNICEF, 1 in 5 girls and women in Kenya have undergone FGM with variations by ethnicity and religion.
3%of the girls underwent FGM at the age of 0-4 years and 46%at the age of 5-9years. Most of these girls were circumcised by traditional practitioners.
“I was circumcised at the age of 14 years, I was not told that I was going to be circumcised, now I stay with my grandmother who arranged the cut”, said Joy.
9%of boys and men think FGM should continue while 89% are against the cut.
Today in Maasai land, men have taken up the role of anti-FGM campaigns. They claim they would not marry women who are cut.
“since most people in this community have gained consciousness on the health effects of FGM, the number of girls and women, who are circumcised have reduced drastically, people are now transformed and men say they will only marry the un-cut”, said one of the Maasai men.