CHIEF ON A MISSION TO END FGM.
“I’m from this same village, my mother is a victim of Female Genital Mutilation, my sisters have been mutilated as well, and my wife is also a survivor of FGM, but it has to stop there;” These are the resolute words of Noah Sampeke, chief of Kumpa Location in Kajiado County, Kenya, who was part of the more than 30 male champions that were trained by Men End FGM Foundation, and is now determined to share his experience with FGM, and see the practice become a thing of the past in his area of administration.
FGM survivors bear physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives, and they are at an increased risk of dying during childbirth. The Chief told his story during the MenENDFGM training of male champions in Kumpa Location in Kajiado County, in order to not only influence other male role models in his community to help end female genital mutilation, but also inspire them to speak up boldly about the practice.
According to the World Health Organization, FGM, which involves partial or total removal of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, is recognised as a violation of human rights and a type of deeply ingrained discrimination against women and girls that affects over 55 million African girls under the age of 15. FGM is a rite of passage from childhood to womanhood in most of the societies where it is practiced.
FGM-affected girls are also more likely to be married off as children and drop out of school, jeopardising their capacity to achieve a brighter future for themselves and their communities. The right to education, a better future for all girls, and a society free from FGM and its devastating impacts are all fundamental rights. It is imperative that we respond boldly to the havoc wreaked by this pandemic, which has given us with a much needed wake-up call.
Understanding and enforcing the Prohibition of FGM Act in Kenya is a promising response to this challenge. As a starting point, we must take legal action against perpetrators in accordance with the law (FGM Act 2011), which focuses on “criminalising those who engage in the practice.”
The practitioners continue to devise new ways to dodge the government’s ban on the cultural rite of passage. This has slowed the implementation of the president’s directive to eradicate FGM by 2022, and it has aggravated some of the inequities and inefficiencies shown by the pandemic.
The time has come for the elders, administration, and other community gatekeepers to bridge the gap and address the cultural norms that perpetuate these practices, as well as make significant, long-term commitments to empower the girls and women and ensure that they do not face the same brutality in the future.
By transforming their negative masculinities, #MenEndFGM works to guarantee that men, elders, religious leaders and boys are informed about female genital mutilation and mobilise them to change the societal norms that perpetuate the practice. The Chief, like other male advocates, is committed to ending female genital mutilation as a legacy project for his children and their children’s children. He doesn’t want his girls to see history repeat itself in front of his eyes.