THE BLADE

Author; Ritah Anindo
Affiliation; Nairobi Youth Advisory Council

Did they have to undergo the cut! Yells Amina
In a squatting position Amina struggled to peep through the small hole in the rusty brown iron sheet, all she saw was blood profusely flowing down the thighs of her peers; Nasra and Sadia who were 7 and 8 years respectively. She wanted to help her friends escape the painful ordeal but she was not able to as she esccaped silently in terorr . Amina knew that she was one of the luckiest girls who had a father so protective of her.

Amina is just one of the few girls who managed to escape the wrath of harmful cultural practices. Female genital mutilation/Cut (FGM/C) still remains one of the monstrous acts that is deterring young girls from enjoying their sexual reproductive health right. It diminishes a womans confidence and is a barrier to unleashing her potential. Globally over 200 million girls have undergone FGM (WHO). In Kenya alone 27% of the women have undergone the cut with counties such as Samburu,Kisii and Garrisa leading in the practice. These numbers pose a great challenge even as the UN embarks on empowering women through SDG 5 AND 3. Its said that the past is a country and that they do things differently there but for Amina this was not the case. It has been twenty years down the line and the routine still continues with a few advancements such as the medicalization and even cross border FGM/C to shun away any suspicions. FGM has always been attributed to culture with believes that if you dont undergo the cut then you are not a real woman. Amina says that when she was younger she was stigmatized for not being cut but now she feels proud and would go to any stride to fight against the act.

Its worrying that Kenya is ranked as the 17th country leading in the practice of FGM. Without progress this will translate to an increase in the number of girls forced into early marriages and even more reports of young pregnant girls. Research indicates that complications during pregnancies and childbirth are the second cause of maternal deaths for girls between age 15-19 years, FGM happens to be one of the greatest contributors of these complications and when measures are not taken, we are yet to experience even greater consequences.

In 2011, all forms of FGM/C was criminalized in Kenya and an anti FGM board was set. It should be noted that the constitution does not categorically refer to FGM but in article 53 it does state that every child should be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices or any form of violence, It happens that most girls undergo FGM before age 15(UNICEF 2016). Such acts are the major contributors to the high teenage pregnancies that have been reported across the country in the recent months. A few months ago Narok county commissioner made it mandatory for all girls in Narok to be assessed and tell whether they have undergone FGM, those who were pregnant would be asked to state the father to their child. We appreciate such efforts to cub this menace but again we dont have to commit an offence of denying our girls the right to make the decision on their sexual reproductive health in an effort to fight FGM, two wrongs never make a right.

Enough has been said, we need to come up with sustainable solutions for our girls, it is evident that criminalization alone cannot end FGM/C. There is need to make our laws accessible in all languages. come to think of it, most perpetrators are elderly, these people dont even know the constitution. It would be better if enough awareness is made.

The constitution needs to be written in a simpler language and well interpreted so that it can be understood by people of all ages and languages. Further more Rural areas should be reached with information of the constitution in various ways such as IEC materials as well as door to door campaign. Members of the public should also join forces with the police to ensure legal measuresare taken.

8 thoughts on “THE BLADE

  1. Scholastica Muturi

    This is wonderful Rita we must fight for FGM to end. Good work

    Gabriel Newton

    Nice article, I think is high time we do away with this cultural practices because it is detoriating our girls dignity,that a good work

    Gabriel Newton

    Nice article, I think is high time we do away with this cultural practices because it is detoriating our girls dignity,that a good work

    Gabriel Newton

    Nice article, I think is high time we do away with this cultural practices because it is detoriating our girls dignity,that a good work

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