FGM Monthly Article – August 2020

The alternative income might keep them away from the practice.   In Summary Those in the cut business are among the biggest challenges in the fight against FGM as they earn from the practice. Discussion on the danger of female circumcision is considered taboo in some societies. Female circumcisers who abandon the practice might get stipends from the government, according to a Chief Administrative Secretary. This might keep them away from the practice as the government seeks to end female genital mutilation by 2022. “Women who conduct the cutting are among the biggest challenges in the fight against FGM as they earn from the practice,” Rachel Shebesh, the Public Service and Gender CAS said. She talked to the media in Isiolo on Thursday after meeting resource persons from 22 counties where FGM is rampant. Shebesh said the anti-FGM law calls for the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the outlawed practice. “Administration officials are tasked with the implementation of that law, but there have been challenges. This is why we are considering the idea of identifying the circumcisers in every village since they are known and offering them stipends as alternative sources of income,” Shebesh said. Chair of Anti-FGM Board Agnes Pareiyo said the war against FGM was bearing fruits.  Prevalence rates had dropped to 21% in the last few years. “The outlawed practice inflicts serious damage on the victims, but the society remains quiet since it is considered a taboo to speak out about it,” Pareiyo said. United Nations Population Fund country representative Ademola Olajide reiterated her organization’s support to end the outlawed practice by the year 2022. The delegates from the 22 counties were commemorating Zero Tolerance to FGM at the Isiolo police...

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FGM Monthly Article – July 2020

  Underage and School Going Mothers to Be Taken Back to School Kenya News Agency July 9, 2020 Teenage girls who have been impregnated will be taken back to school to pursue their dreams, Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia has said.   Prof. Kobia said that the government has a policy in place that allows schoolgirls who get pregnant to resume studies in school when the baby is born.   “However, prevention is what we are looking for because we know that out of those underage girls who get pregnant, less than 20 percent go back to school because getting somebody to take care of their child while they are at school is a challenge. There is also stigma associated with going back to school and mostly these girls are coming from poor backgrounds,” said the CS.   Speaking on Wednesday at the National Youth Service (NYS) headquarters while handing over Covid-19 donations to Women Parliamentary Caucus, the CS explained that they strongly believe that the more years a girl spends in school and attains the highest qualification the better the chances of their quality of life and therefore they want girls to go back to school.   “We have heard that most of the pregnancies are by people known to them with some being close family members. As a Ministry we want to make sure that we prevent these teenage pregnancies and there are many interventions to prevent them including counseling from the parents and avoiding incidences where girls will be exposed to the dangers of being sexually abused,” said Prof. Kobia. Cabinet Secretary for Public Service and Gender, Prof. Margaret Kobia (with flag), flagging of Covid -19 donation of Personal Protective Equipment, food and non-food items to women caucus leaders for distribution to the most  vulnerable families across the country, with special focus on women. Photos by Wickliff Ananda/KNA.   Prof. Kobia said that impregnating an underage girl is defilement and called for maximum punishment for those found culpable.   The CS said that Covid-19 has affected men and women differently and they are looking at ways of offering tailor-made solutions for everyone so that they can make a difference.   “We are working with women parliamentarians so that we can have solutions-oriented interventions to help the most vulnerable members of society cope with the effects of Covid-19,” said Prof. Kobia.   The donations...

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Fistula Awareness

As the world marked another day of Fistula Awareness on May 23rd, many women had their chance to celebrate their triumph and tribulation over their experiences with fistula; others didn’t get a chance to step past their doorsteps because of the stench from their bodies~ the shame kept them from having a smile on their face. Motherhood can be the most rewarding experience of every woman’s life if she gets adequate medical care and attention from the caregiver during childbirth, but if not, this can lead to her suffering from fistula (chronic incontinence due to a tear or hole) which then leaves her physically and emotionally traumatized. Fistula will lower a woman’s self-esteem, keep her isolated from society and even driving her husband and family away, basically, casting her off as an outcast from the community. For those communities which do not understand the cause of fistula, blaming the women themselves for such conditions is the most obvious consequence. Often the husbands or society forbid these mothers from seeing their children again, not realizing that the birth of these children placed their mothers in this predicament. This must be the most painful thing any mother can go through. Fistula should not degrade a woman forever because generally, it is treatable, and women ‘can’ smile again. There are many charitable organizations financially helping the women who dare to speak up about their condition. They are taken for surgeries and restored to hope. We should choose to support and protect women suffering from this condition in whatever way we can and try to make a difference in each other’s lives. NO woman should suffer because she brought a child into the...

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International Day Of The African Child

This day is celebrated on the 16h of June every year. Children the world over are a vulnerable group and a lot needs to be done to protect them. The world has changed, in the past especially in Africa, a child belonged to the whole community. Any adult was deemed safe enough to take care of a child when the parents were away, or to discipline them when they erred without necessarily seeking the permission of the parents. In return, the children knew that they had many eyes watching, and so they behaved appropriately. As we followed up the proceedings of this day, I was reminded of my days as a young girl growing up in the village. I lost my mother at a tender age and was brought up by my grandmother. My father could not have managed to take care of a 2-month-old, and my grandmother was more than willing to bring me up. Growing up in the village required resilience. Poverty greeted you everywhere. I remember my school uniform doubled up as my Sunday dress; it was the best piece of clothing I had in my metal box. We endured hard labor at a young age, fetching water and carrying it on our backs in a heavy metal barrel. We had a hill to climb on the way back home. Fetching firewood and carrying it on our backs was a daunting task. Our backs often bled, pricked by the wooden sticks of firewood, and we walked for many kilometers to get it home. The one thing that stuck in my memory most, is that despite all the poverty and hard work, we were a happy lot. I grew up around a lot of cousins. Our uncles were all referred to as ‘dad’ and they had authority over all of us. In the evenings, we roamed from one aunt’s grass thatched hut to the next. By the time we were done, we had eaten dinner at all of the homes (there were around 5 of them), and still, we could never get enough. I guess we were stocking up for the next day. We didn’t know we were poor; we didn’t know any better. One thing we were assured of was always a warm meal in the night, lunch was unheard of, breakfast was a cup of black tea, even though we had a cow. All the...

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FGM Monthly Article – June 2020

During the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown, activists in some countries made historic gains in the fight to stop the practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, which involves removing a girl’s clitoris. FGM is condemned by the World Health Organization as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which is practiced in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East. Sudan — a country with one of the world’s highest rates of FGM — criminalized the act. In Russia, a gynecologist who performed an FGM operation is being tried in court in one of the first cases of its kind there. But other countries, such as Somalia, saw increases in the practice during pandemic-induced lockdowns. Somalia has the world’s highest FGM rate, with about 98% of women having been cut. “FGM is one of the most extreme manifestations of violence against girls.” Sadia Abdi Allin, Plan International’s head of mission in Somalia Allin said it’s become so popular in Somalia that people offering to perform the practice are now going door to door. “They knocked on my own [door] asking if I have girls to cut,” she said. “And it was such a shock for me because I haven’t seen that for years.” Still, some parents see FGM as a requirement under some faiths, and they saw the COVID-19 lockdown as a good time to have it done. Allin said women’s organizations have reported dramatic increases in the number of FGM operations. The procedure is forced on thousands of girls every year for no medical purpose. It can destroy a woman’s ability to experience sexual pleasure and lead to health problems. Allin said girls who undergo FGM often turn silent and timid. “When they are silenced from a very young age, then the expectation for a woman to become a leader, to be educated, to be economically powerful, is absolutely zero,” she said. Allin said all she can do is plead with parents not to perform the operation because right now, there’s no law to protect girls. For her, Sudan’s reported passage of a law criminalizing FGM was inspiring. “It has [given] me that great hope that we may be next,” Allin said. But the ban in Sudan took years of activism to bring about. “Nobody really expected that FGM, after all these years, it would...

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