September 9, 2019

Female Genital Mutilation, otherwise, known as FGM is a topic that elicits mixed emotions every time it is brought up. Two of the schools where we offer the Choice Club mentoring program has a huge number of students from the Masai community. This community practices FGM on girls as young as 9 years old. The fight to eradicate FGM has been very strong from the government of Kenya. Many innocent lives have been lost due to this atrocious practice. The cut is done in secret, and when severe bleeding occurs, the perpetrators quickly abandon the girls and ran away fearing arrest; they dare not take the girls to the hospital.

One of the girls at the Choice Club program confided in us how she was convinced by her mother to undergo the cut. The mother told her that it was their way of life and no man would marry her unless she was cut. Afraid, naïve, and with no one to help her, she underwent the cut. She says the pain thereafter was unimaginable. She went through moments when she could barely leave her bed, but her parents would not take her to the hospital because they feared being arrested. After many agonizing weeks of pain and discomfort, she was finally able to go back to school. She says the image of the old lady who cut her never leaves her memory.

She breaks down many times and wishes she had run away from home before she was circumcised. Messages of hope for such girls keep them going. They feel violated and don’t like remembering what happened to them. Many of the girls who were cut have fallen pregnant along the way. They feel so hopeless. They get carried away when men show them attention. They are bitter with life and don’t talk much; they only feel comfortable amongst other girls who have also been cut.

The teachers will tell you that the ‘cut’ girls are very hostile towards their fellow students and even teachers. They are quick to pick quarrels and even get into fights at the slightest provocation. Some consider the girls that have ‘not been cut’ as inferior, and they won’t sit near them. They will not share a shower cubicle with the uncut girls, they stay in groups and are hard to manage. A lot of counseling is needed for these girls to understand that what was done to them was not their fault. They need to interact with the rest of the students and learn to get along with the others. They are simply children ensnared in a culture they do not understand. Most don’t perform well in school and drop out early due to pregnancies or early marriage.

It is encouraging to see the efforts the government is putting in place to eradicate FGM. Many of the people participating in the practice have been jailed and children placed in Rescue Centers. It is a tough war because of the cultural beliefs, but a war that must be fought. Educating the girls on the dangers of FGM helps spread the message. Many communities that have historically been involved in the cut are now coming up with champions at the forefront of creating awareness on the need to eradicate FGM.

We now see Masai Moran’s, warriors who are feared because of their bravely in clan fights joining in the cause. They say they are ready to marry girls who have not been cut; this gives hope to many girls in the community.

As we promote these message in the Choice Club meetings this month, we are happy to share the story of our Valvisions Pokot girls. They ran away from their homes to escape the cut, joined primary school, received a secondary education and later joined college. They are now teachers in their own right; they are an inspiration to many and a success story for us.

The fight against FGM continues, even jailing those that willingly undergo the cut.


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