FGM Monthly Article – March 2020

March 2020

FGM LEADS TO RISE IN TEEN PREGNANCIES

Woman abandons the blade to become anti-FGM crusader

The woman, who is a mother of six, now engages in farming and beadwork as a way of earning her living.

 

In Summary

  • The mother of six now earns her living from farming and beadwork.
  • Lanoi said she was forced to undergo the cut because of peer pressure.

Image: Star Illustrated

 

We met Naipanoi Kodoinyo weeding her kitchen garden at her Nkarreta village home in Narok North subcounty.

Kodoinyo, who is in her late 60s, is a former circumciser. She is now an anti-female genital mutilation crusader in the area.

The mother of six now earns her living from farming and beadwork.

She confessed to having been behind the circumcision of more than 90 per cent of girls in her village. She started circumcising girls in her early 40s.

“I have already buried my circumcision tools which include razor blades and knives and now I’m calling on society to shun the retrogressive practice,” she said.

She inherited the practice from her late grandmother, who was also a circumciser.

“The job was earning me a lot of money and society respected me a lot. In most cases whenever I cut a girl, and she healed, the family would bring me a heifer, a goat or a sheep as a token of appreciation,” she said.

But how did Kodoinyo stop circumcising girls, a practice that was earning her thousands of shillings?

Kodoinyo said her local pastor visited her homestead and talked to her about the love of God and how it was unbiblical to circumcise girls.

“My pastor, whom I do not want to name, prayed for me and asked me if I wanted to shun the outdated behavior and follow Christ, which I simply accepted,” she said.

Narok Children’s officer Pilot Khaemba said girls “feel like women” after the cut and start engaging in premature sex. Others are married off.

“FGM has led to the rise in teenage pregnancies in the area making many to drop out of school after giving birth. We are working with the chiefs to shun the practice,” the Children’s officer said.

Sanaipei Lanoi, 32, recalled she underwent the cut after sitting her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam at age 14.

Lanoi said she was forced to undergo the cut because of peer pressure. Girls her age were being ridiculed and seen as being afraid of undergoing the cut.

The pressure was so strong that many girls aged between 13 and 16 would run away from their homes to other areas where they would secretly be circumcised before returning when they had healed.

“I was afraid of losing my friends. I had to undergo the cut, however painful it was, so that I can please them and fit in their company,” Lanoi recalls.

Lanoi now regrets being circumcised as it did not add any value to her life.

“I regret undergoing the cut. I stayed in the house for weeks bleeding and I could not walk properly for a whole month. There is no benefit that comes with the practice and I stand as one who will campaign against the practice,” she said.

Late last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government is committed to ending retrogressive cultural practices by the year 2022.

The president, who spoke when he met religious and cultural leaders from 22 counties with the highest prevalence of FGM late last year, promised to continue the war on the practice.

“We seek to free our girls from one of the worst forms of gender-based violence that is retrogressive and no longer has a place within our society,” the President said in the meeting that was held at State House.

PAINFUL PRACTICE

FGM involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, health and the integrity of girls and women.

Girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

The reasons why FGM is performed vary from one region to another as well as over time. They include a mix up of social culture factors within families and communities in different diversities.

FGM in many communities is believed to reduce a woman’s “libido” and therefore believed to help her resist extramarital sexual acts.

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