FGM Monthly Article – March 2021

Narok County Elders Pledge to Support Fight Against FGM March 11,2021 By Prudence Wanza / Stanley Mbugua The elders spoke during the ongoing Emanyatta trainings in Narok County where thousands of young men are participating. The Chief leader of Naikarra Emanyatta in Narok west Sub County, Tino ole Linka said the young men aged between 19 and 23 years old are being taught to resist cultures like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages in efforts to end the practice. Kilesi Ole Siyianton, an influential leader in the area asked the community to take their children to school so that they can compete with other children from other regions. Siyianton who spoke while donating food stuff to the Emanyatta, encouraged the young men to be in the front line of shunning FGM in a bid to end the retrogressive practice in the county. The traditional ceremony ensures continuation of Maa culture as the practice is passed from one generation to another. This comes just a few days after elders in Samburu County declared to end FGM and child marriages during a visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta in the County. The President signed a Memorandum of Understanding to end FGM with the elders urging them to find alternative rites of passage for girls. FGM has been highlighted as a major factor leading to early pregnancies and marriages among young girls as most of them are perceived to be ready for marriage after undergoing the cut. According to UNICEF data, 4 million girls and women in Kenya have undergone FGM and overall, 21 per cent of women aged 15-49 years have been subjected to the practice. Girls and women form rural areas, living in poor households, with less education or who identify as Muslim are at greater risk. The practice is highly concentrated in the North Eastern region and in certain ethnic groups. FGM is now on the global development agenda through its inclusion in sustainable Development Goal (SDG) which aims to eliminate the practice by...

Read More

Anti FGM Champions

FGM has physical, psychological, and social impacts on people’s lives. Dressed in colorful red, blue and white cloth, with necklaces of white beads adorning his chest, 32-year-old Ole Lelein Kanunga sings and dances with his fellow Masai warriors. He is carrying a long dark-brown stick, symbolizing that he is their leader. The dance, the attire, the symbolism — it’s all very traditional. But Ole Lelein is also a revolutionary. He wants to end the practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, among the Masai in southern Kenya. We have worked with Lelein on a number of workshops with the Pokot girls under the Helen Valverde Scholarship program. He has been very instrumental in bringing change to his community. The Masai warriors referred to as Moran’s are taught that it is unacceptable to marry an uncircumcised woman. When they are ready for marriage, the family of the man will pick out a suitable wife for him. The wife to be will be cut and passed on to the man. Age does not really matter, from 8 years onwards the girl is ready for marriage. We became interested in Lelein’s story because he stood against the practice and is educating the Moran’s against it, too. He encourages the Masai to say no to FGM by marrying women who are not cut, and not to marry underage girls. Initially, he was not very popular in his community; the members could not understand why he would advocate against a practice that was part of their culture. Despite the ridicule and humiliation, he encountered, he pressed on and because of his efforts, there has been a lot of change within his community. Many of the girls now attend school, they have escaped the cut and have become a voice against FGM for the other girls in the community. Lelein also has to deal with the fact that he is a man campaigning against a practice widely considered a women’s affair. But he says he won’t give up.  Although Masai men tend to make all the decisions at the household level, mothers have a big role in the execution of FGM. They initiate, organize and prepare this rite of passage for their daughters, so an important aspect of the programs is to teach mothers and their daughters about the consequences of FGM. When he called The Choice Club for a function in his rural home, we...

Read More

Boy-Girl Relationships

Having conversations about sex, relationships and communication from a young age makes it possible for children to feel comfortable talking about their feelings and relationships in their adolescence. Not all teenagers do, but most teenagers experiment with sexual behavior at some stage. Giving them clear information on safe sex, consent, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections means they are equipped to be safe. Plus, having this conversation early and more than once, means you can also talk about unwanted sexual behavior and peer pressure. A lesson on boys and relationships would have been a topic that most girls would avoid in the past, but not today. Girls are struggling with relationships; they want to keep their boyfriends, at whatever cost, and mostly they suffer the consequences. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise. Most girl schools are asking for help on educating the girls on the need for abstinence; the girls, on the other hand, want to be taught about contraceptives and safe days. A number of schools have had to send girls home, so they can go and deliver their babies, then come back to school. A sad reality for the teachers and parents alike. Today’s discussion at the Choice Club meeting focused on boy-girl relationships and body image.  Many of the girls gained weight during the Covid lockdown. They stayed home and indulged a lot and being at an age when they easily put on weight, they are feeling the effects of overeating. Being back in school, the girls who put on weight are being taunted by their fellow school mates. As teenagers, they have a picture in their heads of how a perfect body should be like. The problem is a “perfect” body doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way it is defined in the media. So, chasing the “perfect” body can end only in disappointment. This leads to poor self-esteem, which can impact all other aspects of life. Girls naturally lose weight when in boarding school because the school diet is usually not very good. Unlike at home where they have access to snacks and junk food, at school they do not have such luxuries. In today’s discussion, the girls said they feel the need to look their best because they want to impress the boys. None of the girls wants to lose her boyfriend to a better looking girl, and so they will do...

Read More

FGM Monthly Article – February 2021

Kenya: Reformed Cutters Protect the Next Generation 0From Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya allAfrica February 4, 2021 UNFPA East and Southern Africa (Johannesburg) By Tamugh, West Pokot County. Kenya More than 10,000 girls over 30 years. That’s how many girls three women here cut in female genital mutilation rituals – almost one girl a day, every day, spanning three decades. Now in their 70s, Chepchongil Cheleston, Kokarupe Lorwu and Methani Chepurai Lokuda are female genital mutilation survivors and former cutters who have turned their backs on the blade, fighting against the harmful practice and encouraging a younger generation to do the same. They’ve gathered at Ms. Lokuda’s home with area chief Christopher Adoiywan and other anti-female genital mutilation advocates. The meeting is an opportunity for the chief to work closely with the community on learning about at-risk girls, as well as fostering dialogue on changing societal norms and behaviours that perpetuate harmful practices like this and child marriage. Ms. Lokuda, who learned the practice from her grandmother, said the girls she cut so long ago are now much older women, but her actions still weigh heavily on her conscience. Those girls did not – but should have had – a say in what happened to their bodies. At the time, she understood the practice as a mandatory rite of passage. “All the women in my generation had been circumcised, and it is something that the community embraced as a sign of womanhood. If you did not do it, you did not belong,” explained Ms. Lokuda, who performed the cut on over 5,000 girls. If she did the job during the day, she was paid in alcohol; at night, she received $5 per girl. Luis Tato/UNFPA Former circumciser Methani Chepurai Lokuda, left, herself a survivor of FGM, says her actions weigh heavily on her conscience. Ms. Lorwu was compensated similarly. “Every evening, young women would be gathered in a particular household, and I would be called to perform the circumcision,” she said. “After a night of singing and dancing, the girls would wake up at the crack of dawn and shower. We would then proceed to the cowshed where I performed the cut. I would be paid between $5 and $10 per girl. Sometimes I would be paid in alcohol.” The three women credit their reformation to a newfound faith in God and the training and information they received from UNFPA...

Read More

Managing Classroom Behavior

Growing up, we attended a school in the countryside or what we would call ‘a village.’ We did not have much. Breakfast was rare, and when we got something to eat, it was a welcome relief. We walked for an hour and a half to get to school. The climate was very unfriendly. We endured extremely cold conditions; we walked bare feet. If by any chance we arrived at the school late, we would be caned in the palm of a hand or made to lie down and canned on our bottoms. The teacher used a wooden stick, or a hose pipe cut into pieces.This was the way of life, and no one was spared. For every misconduct, there was a punishment, some as harsh as digging the school farm for an entire day. Not once did we see a parent come to school to complain about the punishment. We endured and we finished school. We turned out fine, very disciplined, and we passed our exams. No one died because of the harsh treatment we received.Fast forward to the current situations we are seeing in schools. This week the debate on the media has been on why the cane should be reintroduced in schools. Schools are struggling with student unrest and teachers feel the only way to deter the situation is to cane the students as a form of punishment. As much as this method worked before, we are dealing with a different generation. Technology has totally changed the way life was in days past. No student is going to allow to be caned and not retaliate.This week we are looking at ways to help the teachers manage the school unrests. There are guidelines they can use that will have a positive effect on the students without necessarily resulting back to the use of the cane. Since punishment is not yielding positive results, we feel the teachers need to find other ways they can help alleviate the situation.Teachers must balance a great deal in the classroom on a daily basis. In addition to giving lessons, grading, giving students assistance, and managing administrative tasks, teachers must manage student behavior.Without appropriate consideration for behavior management, classrooms can become unruly and chaotic. This creates an environment that is not conducive to learning or academic performance.Teachers must find strategies to define the student’s behavior management that will be effective during the school year....

Read More
WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin