Fight FGM

April 14, 2020

The eradication of Female Genital Mutilation is very close to our hearts as an organization. The risks associated with FGM are horrific for young women and girls. There is nothing good that comes from the practice; all it contributes is to endanger the lives of those that undergo the cut.

The Pokot girls in the Helen Valverde Scholarship program were very fortunate to have been saved from the cut. One of the girls in the program recently got engaged to a non-Pokot man. The rest of the girls called me very excited to report that they attended the engagement party. This is something new in Pokot, who ever heard of an engagement party there?! And to a non-Pokot man?!!?

We include these photos from the engagement party.

Cecilia’s Aunt pours milk on her to seal the union. All the aunties from her father’s side will pour milk on her.  Milk is greatly valued in the Pokot community because they depend a lot on livestock for their livelihood especially cows and camels.

Cecilia’s dad seals the union by pouring milk on the head of her husband to be.

Another of Cecilia’s Aunts pours milk on her to bless the union.

Cecilia carries a guard of milk on her back. She will walk to her husband’s new home carrying it. Her in-laws will meet her on the way, the mother in law will get the guard off her back and take the milk home. This milk is to be consumed by her in- laws. It symbolizes a new wife in the home.

The stick Cecilia is holding is given to her by her mother for herding the cows that her husband will give her. It cannot be used by anyone else except her and she cannot herd without it.

Cecilia and a friend


The message is loud and clear; it is possible to get a suitor without being cut!

There was a point where the girls were very worried, wondering who was going to marry them since the community knew they’d opted for education and missed out on the ‘all important’ ceremony facilitating their graduation from childhood to adulthood. Because these girls received an education, they learned they can marry men from other communities who would not require them to be cut beforehand. FGM is illegal in Kenya; it has been illegal since the practice and procurement of it were banned in 2011.

We read an article about Somali women who live abroad who send their young girls, some as young as 7 years of age, to get cut at a clinic in Kenya.  The clinic is known locally as ‘little Mogadishu.’ It mostly receives Somali clients from Europe – particularly the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway – and the United States. The lady who runs the clinic says that business is very good; she actually retains a middleman who refers clients her way. The parents travel thousands of miles, paying large sums of money, to ensure that their daughters undergo a procedure that can range from losing the tip of the clitoris to having the entire inner and outer labia sliced off, and the opening to the vagina sewn closed. One young lady who has undergone the procedure compared it to ‘butchering a human.’

One of the women found at the clinic says when her granddaughter is older and marries a Somali man in Sweden, she will be expected to undergo the procedure. Before she heard of this clinic, she arranged for three of her nieces living in Colorado (USA) to travel to Garissa in north-eastern Kenya to undergo the cut. There, she says, they perform the ‘correct’ – the most extreme – version of FGM. The girls are kept in isolation inside a house for 40 days, she explains, with their legs restricted by a rope to prevent movement.

Our joy, despite all that is going on around the world this week, was to hear the President of Kenya re-validate his determination to eradicate FGM by the end of 2022. He has been very vocal on the issue and is deeply passionate about putting an end to FGM.  He supports all measures put in place to end it. We, at Valvisions Foundation, add our voice to this cause. Our girls who have been educated and who have escaped the cut, have become powerful role models in their communities proving why it is essential to wholly eliminate FGM. Having one of our own marry from another tribe in Pokot, a neighboring tribe that does not require the cut prior to marriage, sends an exceedingly strong message. Times have changed, and no longer will our girls allow retrogressive cultural practices to hold them back.

(Together let us stop FGM by the year 2022)

(Eradication of FGM is MY responsibility, YOUR responsibility and OUR responsibility)

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