By Fatuma yatani
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). UN resolution 1325 emphasizes the responsibilities of all states and governments to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for war crimes relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls. FGM/C is internationally recognized as a violation of the basic human rights of girls and women as stated by the United Nations. FGM/C is practiced in more than half of the countries in Africa.
The study also found out that the low literacy level adversely affects the reproductive health of women, girls and the youth in general and concluded that there is need for vigorous sensitization on the above issues through mass education and/or open dialogue. The foregoing findings fuel the basis for the ROPE anti-FGM/C and Early Marriage campaign. It is tailored to the specific context of the Laikipia Maasai community, which we believe will ultimately make the endeavor more effective.
Female genital mutilation/cutting is the community’s means of initiating a girl into womanhood and preventing promiscuity. Due to the young age at which girls are initiated – sometimes as early as 8 years, they ultimately end up being married off in some cases to men who are old enough to be their fathers. Those who fall pregnant before marriage are forced to undergo painful abortion and are stigmatized. FGM complicates the birth process leading to the deaths of women and their babies. MMR is 10/1000 while IMR is 17/1000. As only 14% of women deliver in health facilities (most of them with complications) where data is captured, the DPHN believes these figures could be higher. Medical fistula complications like VVF and RVF (severe complications that damage the bladder and rectal control of a woman, reducing her ability to maintain personal hygiene) are common though due to stigma, women rarely seek medication.
FGM is still a celebrated public event among the pastoral communities in marsabit, dictated by the decrees from the Council of Elders, which decides when circumcision should take place. , girls undergoing FGM are given gifts and are generally considered more suitable for marriage and more socially acceptable.
Early interventions focused on the health risks of FGM, and addressing FGM as a harmful traditional practice. Though not documented, it is suspected that this emphasis may have led to harm-reduction tendencies in some communities, including minimizing the amount of flesh cut, and using medical staff and implements to perform the cutting (medicalisation). There is particularly on the use of ARP (Alternative rite of passage) approaches to the abandonment of FGM. ARP is potentially a powerful alternative approach which maintains the celebration of the passage of a girl to womanhood, thus respecting the culture and tradition, without the act of genital cutting. ARP is often suggested as an intervention offering a culturally sensitive approach leading to the long term abandonment.
The first step in curbing this vice is talking about it.Although it is avery popular cultural practice in the pastoralistic communities in Marsabit county, Fgm is not openly discussed even within the elites in the community and quite sad considering that these are the people who are in a better position to help eradicate it.
Measure needs to be in place to eradicate this vice completely because it violates human rights of both girls and women.FGM violates the following rights of a person
1.Rights to minorities,International human right recognizes that members of the minority groups,racial,ethnic,religious or lingustic are entitled to special protection to enable them to maintain their own culture free of interference and discrimination.
2.The right to be free from all forms of discrimination against women,this is carried on women and girls that has the effect on their sexual desires and enjoyment of their fundamental rights.
3.The right to life and physical intergrity including freedom from violence.fgm affects the right to life in situations when death occurs resulting from mutilation procedures what comes to the life to physical intergrity.
4.The right of the child,in communities in Marsabit county most of the girls who undergo FGM are under age kids and some are subjected to it without their consent.
5.Right to Health,FGM is associated with complications that have bad effects on women’s and girl’s physical and emotional health.
6.Rights to religious freedom;The issue of religious freedom arises because some of the religious institutions are practising FGM as a matter of religion.There is no support of FGM in the Quran,but there is the belief that fgm is practiced as part of sunnah in islam religion which is violation of someone religious rights.