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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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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FGM Monthly Article – May 2020

Sudanese government bans female genital mutilation   By Nima Elbagir and Rob Picheta, CNN May 1, 2020 (CNN) Sudan’s government has criminalized female genital mutilation (FGM), a government spokesperson told CNN on Friday, clamping down on a practice that most of the country’s women and girls have endured. An amendment of the country’s criminal code was passed outlawing FGM, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the action fell under the government’s commitment to international human rights agreements. According to United Nations data around 88% of the female population in Sudan have suffered FGM, making it one of the world’s most-affected nations. “No doubt this article will contribute in addressing one of the most dangerous social practices, which constitutes a clear violation against women and a crime against women’s rights,” the Sudanese Foreign Ministry statement says. The ministry called the move “an advanced step in order to terminate this predominant socially-rooted trend.” It added that it “trusts the competence of the designated Sudanese authorities and their capacity and professionalism protecting and respecting women and enhancing their rights at a general level and particularly their health and social rights.” The Foreign Ministry highlighted that for this law to be successfully enforced, there needs to be a community effort and coordination between “all parties” in raising awareness of the issue through community outreach. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry “indicates that the amendment of this law is a positive mark in creating a society where women enjoy all their rights including exercising their rights and duties,” the statement adds. The news was welcomed by UNICEF, which cautioned in a statement that midwives, health service providers, fathers, mothers, and young people need to be informed about the new legislation. “This practice is not only a violation of the rights of every child, it is a harmful practice and has serious consequences for the physical and mental health of the girl,” Abdullah Fadel,” a UNICEF representative in Sudan, said in a statement. “Therefore, governments and societies alike should take immediate action to end this.”...

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FGM Monthly Article – April 2020

West Africa: Ending FGM in Mali: “The fight is hard but noble” “You were born yesterday, and you are the one who wants to talk to us about female genital mutilation? This is what parents say when we try to talk to them about it,” says 25-year-old Coulibaly who is youth activist working with Plan International to end the practice of FGM in his community in Mali. In a country where more than 85 per cent of women and girls believe FGM should continue, ending FGM is not an easy task. In Malian society, a woman who is not cut is often considered to be unclean. She may find it difficult to marry and be socially excluded. Many also believe it is a requirement of Islam. The subject of FGM is considered taboo, so those who are most affected do not discuss it or the physical or psychological consequences. Transforming the situation is challenging as the practice is deeply rooted in cultural and social norms. “Before, when we talked about abandoning female genital mutilation, we were banned from the village,” explains Kouradjei, 60, who is a former FGM exciser. “I gave up the knife a long time ago. During my career, I have seen some awful things. I now know the consequences of the practice of female genital mutilation and I am convinced that it has no advantages for women.” Mali remains one of the last remaining African countries without national legislation banning FGM. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 girls and women in Mali have undergone FGM, with the highest rates of FGM occurring in the south. Plan International has implemented projects in 180 villages in five regions of Mali with the aim of eradicating FGM. The communities we work with are at the heart of our interventions, so we establish village committees to create action plans to tackle the issue. By setting up key partnerships with government agencies, local authorities, children’s organizations and youth groups we have seen a fall in the number of cases of FGM in the communities we work with, however we still have a long way to go. Our challenges remain high in a society where girls do not have a say when it comes to female genital mutilation, a society where young people are not consulted when it comes to our rights. The fight is hard but noble,” Coulibaly says....

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FGM Monthly Article – 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...

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