It’s a very beautiful day, the sun is about to rise from a far, Young men have already woken up and ready to take the cows to the field, within the commotion, one could hear beautiful melodies in the air, voices of women singing as well as loud drumming. One would think it’s a celebration to receive the warriors home after along stay in the bush. At this time of the year this is the scenario that will meet your ears.
From a distance voices of young girls crying can be heard. They are getting ready to face the wrath of the knife. These are young girls from as young as six years. The most heart breaking thing is the look on their innocent faces.
Edema Wario is the youngest of the girls from Kula Mawe, Isiolo County. The look on her face will just tell you that the she is not aware of the cruelty of the world that is awaiting her.
According to the old lady performing the vice the procedure is undertaken without any anesthetic.
“They will just feel the pain when I cut but after that they will be fine and it’s a quick procedure, within a minute and its over,” says Sarah Maalim, a traditional midwife.
In this area the most common FGM procedure is Type 1, the partial or full removal of the clitoris.
According to Sarah this is a rite of passage to the women in her society, “Every woman in our community has to go through this, it has been with us since the time of our ancestors and we will continue with it no one can convince us that it is wrong.”
When asked why getting circumcised was so important Sarah replied, “Usually girls at this age get ‘excited,’ and this operation takes care of that.”
Some of these young girls are not fortunate to live to tell the tales of the horrific experience.
”Two years ago I lost one of my daughters, the bleeding could not stop I just watched her take her last breath,” said Saida Adan with tears in her eyes.
Saida is working with the girls and women in her community, in trying to educate them on their rights. “I do not want another mother to go through what I went through; I will not let watch as another child go through the pain my daughter went through,”
Fatuma Isha was born in the United Kingdom but when she was 10 years her parents sent her to Kenya for the summer vacation that’s when it all happened to her.
“I felt betrayed, three women were holding me down while the one with the knife was standing in front of me and the knife was really sharp covered with blood from the other girls”
“Within a minute it was done but the pain I felt at that time I still feel it up to date, I still have some many unanswered question but nobody is willing to talk about that day”
FGM refers to all procedures that involve the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The act is painful and traumatizing to the young girls. It has numerous negative health consequences that can last for a life time. The practice is also a form of violence to the girl child.
Globally, it is estimated that over 140 million girls and women have undergone some form of FGM. Currently, more than three million girls, the majority under 15 years of age, undergo the procedure each year report by the World Health Organization(WHO).
In Kenya, FGM is a painful reality for generations of women and girls. Although the Demographic Health Survey of Kenya shows that FGM among 15-49 year olds declined to 27.1 percent in 2008-2009 from 37.9 percent 1998 a lot still needs to be done.
In Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan, 85% of women undergo mutilation.
Study by WHO shows that FGM exposes women and babies to significant risks during childbirth. The complications can include need for a Caesarean section, severe hemorrhage and prolonged hospitalization.
With all these complications at hand women who have undergone FGM end up losing their lives when giving birth because they have no access to a health facility and trained personnel to attend to them.
FGM is practiced by different ethnic and religious groups within the country for different beliefs. Although the practice is illegal, FGM is far more prevalent among the Somali (98 percent), Kisii (96 percent) and Maasai (73 percent according to UNICEFstatistics.
The Children’s Act 2001 criminalizes the subjection of children to FGM/C; people violating the law are subject to prison sentences. The law’s main impact has been to drive the practice underground.
Article by Amina Mbuthia.