Post by: Lolo Cynthia
When we talk about FGM, we talk about it only from the angle of abuse and a way to control a woman’s sexuality but with research, we have seen that a lot of mothers cut their daughters so they aren’t regarded as outcasts in their community. This means that even if a mother doesn’t want her daughter to be cut, she still feels compelled because she wants to protect her child from discrimination.
We need to study and learn from the community to understand how they perceive their situation before developing programs and enforcing solutions on them.
How then do we tackle this? It can’t be only from criminalizing the practice- A system reform is needed. A natural social change in the community- Break down the systems that contribute to the maintenance of the practice and make the community realize the dangers of that practice that they start to reject it collectively.
For example, organizing women meetings to discuss it- this way , a mother who doesn’t want her child to be cut but is too scared to rebuke it will realize that she’s probably not alone – That way it’s easier to rebuke the practice.
But what if some women say- it’s our culture! It’s our rite of passage into womanhood! Now you see that they hold sentimental value to the practice- This is where you suggest an alternative rite of passage.
In Kenya, Alternative rite of passage could end FGM FOREVER! Many NGOs have developed their own model that doesn’t involve cutting- for example, the organization; S.A.F.E. creates this by replacing the cutting for the practice of pouring milk on their things, to symbolize womanhood.
Between 2010- 2017, 30% of girls in the Maasai community in the Loita hills underwent this alternative rite of passage plus the ceremony to celebrate the passage.
FGM Graduation ceremonies in Mara region
Before barreling down communities, and forcing change down their throats, we need to study and learn from the community to understand how they perceive their situation before developing programs and painting ourselves a messiah.