Demystifying Fgm Myths

October 5, 2020

Girls who are not circumcised in communities that practice FGM are deemed to be immature and are treated as outcasts in the family and community, at large. The lie is that they will not get suitors in the future, and if they get pregnant, their babies will be a sign of a bad omen. As such, the pregnancies are to be terminated. If the girls were to give birth, the myth continues, the babies will die upon delivery as no such child could survive. Uncircumcised girls are perceived as cowards; their fathers will not partake of any gruel made by them.

Most of these illusions force girls in communities where FGM is practiced to undergo the cut because they do not want to become victims of the said calamities. The effects of not being cut would impact the girls, socially, in huge, detrimental ways. In general, the girls would suffer from low self-esteem, social segregation causing disharmony and conflicts, and early marriages to name a few. Girls and young women from communities that practice FGM face enormous challenges. They cannot own property; the property belongs to the men, and the best they can do is take care of it. Inheritance is only for boys and men.

In the Masai community, women build the family houses.  The Masai women, nonetheless, are denied some of the nutritious foods which are available.  Such meat and produce are be consumed only by men. Girls are encouraged to get married instead of getting an education. Women are not allowed to express themselves or question their spouses. Women are property that belongs to the man, when he counts his cows and goats, he adds her to the number.

The girls in the Helen Valverde Scholarship Program come from a community that believe in all of the above. They had no hope for an education until Valvisions Foundation came along. Through the support they received from the foundation, they were able to get an education and better their lives. They stopped believing in all the negative things they had been told all their lives and started to believe they could have a better future.

They all successfully finished their Secondary School education; those that passed well got into college and graduated. Four of the girls are now teachers and despite the myth that they would not get suitors if they did not get cut, 3 of these girls have been married by men from other communities and are bringing up children with them. West Pokot has been marked as one of Kenya’s FGM hotspots with a prevalence rate of 74 per cent. Despite the national decline in the prevalence, the practice is still high in some communities such as the Somali at 94 per cent, Samburu 86 per cent, Kisii 84 per cent, Maasai 78 per cent and West Pokot 74 per cent.

The children that the Valvisions scholars are bringing up will have a better chance in life. They are children of educated parents. As such, the agony that plagued their mothers will not be repeated. The girls born into these unions will grow up with the kind of freedom and equal opportunities that each girl deserves. They will have a say in the choice of their future spouses and what happens to their bodies. That is what education does, it liberates and gives one freedom and a sense of belonging.

Vivian with her daughter. She is traditionally married to her fellow teacher,  and they live away from Pokot.

Alexine with her son. She is married to a non- Pokot man. Her husband works with the Police Force in Nairobi.

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