Picture this: an elderly woman drags a young girl to a hidden bush, beneath a sacred tree. The girl is forced to lie down on a dry animal skin, helpless and hapless. The strong arms of the elderly women who have spent years perfecting this are comparable to massive pieces of iron in a prison. On her left leg, she has two strong hands and two on her right; on her left hand, she has two frightening hands and two on her right. Then there’s this one, tightly gripping her neck and covering her face with a strong palm. The poor girl’s screams, cries and kicks have no effect. She has given it her all, but her entire effort feels insignificant and has amounted to just a drop in the ocean. She’s left with nothing but wet, puffy eyes. It is like a pregnant deer that is trapped between a pack of hungry lions.  And between her legs, another elderly woman is cutting her genitals like any other piece of meat, apparently not bothered by the cries of the little girl occasioned by the indescribable pain she is going through. The girl’s clitoris is cut, and then her larger labia. As if that’s not enough, her inner labia is cut too. All of this, they claim, is to remove pieces of “foreskin” from them, without which the girls will smell for the rest of their lives.  
In Kajiado, girls and women participate in a community training lead by trained Male Champions.

In Kajiado, girls and women participate in a community training lead by trained Male Champions.

It does not stop there: the poor girl’s genitals are also sewn shut over the course of several hours, but a small opening is left in order to pass urine. If one is fortunate enough, the opening is large enough to comfortably pass urine, but it becomes a nightmare when she begins to menstruate. Don’t be deceived, no anesthesia is used during this whole process. In the wake of this disaster, the women break into a dancing frenzy. The girl has matured into a woman. The mother can relax because her daughter’s sex drive has been contained, hence won’t humiliate her. The father will be pleased because he will collect a large number of cattle as dowry from her prospective husband. And the future husband will be content because he will be certain to marry a virgin. Every day, thousands of girls worldwide are experiencing this atrocity.  

Eluangata Village’s Koin Matinti discusses the significance of men being educated about the dangers of FGM.

  And that’s just the beginning. The girl begins her first period, at which point her father receives the news from the mother that she is prepared. The father dispatches a delegation to meet with the prospective husband. Occasionally, the husband is older than the daughter’s father or his age mate. As a result, the girl’s education is cut short. The family organizes a traditional wedding ceremony for her. All this time she is not been informed of what is happening. She only sees motions in her father’s house, not knowing what awaits her – she’s being exchanged for cattle. In her mother’s face, a smile depicts a harmless celebration. She is confident that her mother’s compassionate nature would never intentionally harm her. When you think that she is just 14 years old, the revelation that she is going to be handed over to her would-be husband for life hits you like a ton of bricks. A man she has never seen, spoken with, or even heard of. A very old man, who’s looking to add a third or fourth or even fifth wife. She is incapable of loving him. However, cultural and religious prejudices prevent her from questioning the men’s decisions. She is obligated to obey and will spend the rest of her life in eternal sadness and lifelong imprisonment, not just physically but also mentally. As she enters her new home, the old man strips her and checks to see if she is closed. This is the first time of his interaction with the girl. Indeed, she is. He is unable to penetrate her due to the size of the ‘opening’. He summons his first wife to assist him in opening the genitals. The older woman, armed with a razor, approaches and cuts the girl again, bringing back memories of the first time! So, it did not end with the sewing!!!!!! How many more times will she have to go through this? As she bleeds profusely following her genitals being cut open, the man penetrates her! What? Yes! All of this is believed to be effective in quelling the little girl’s bleeding. She is held captive by her people’s culture and religion. All that remains is for her to obey and never question – obey until her final breath.    

In Maili Tisa, trained male champions sensitize girls and women in the Eluangata community.

  Such are the incidences our sisters, daughters, and even mothers face in communities where female genital mutilation is being practiced, all in the name of cultural demands. And the ripple effect is enormous. Uneducated girls, who are forbidden to make informed decisions about their bodies, their health, and that of their families. Girls and women whose health has been adversely affected by the cut – experiencing pain during their menstruation period, who face complications while giving birth, because of the consequences brought by the cut, among other complications, and the cycle continues. Some lose their lives either during the cut or due to the complications.   No matter how hard we try, we cannot stop this from happening solely by speaking to girls and women. It is important that we convey these harrowing events to men, who are considered the custodians of culture, especially in the highly patriarchal societies. Men must understand the plight of these young, innocent girls. Once they are able to know what these girls go through, they won’t have boldness to say they can’t marry uncut women!  

Male Champions training session at Kajiadio’s Kasipuk Community.

  And this is precisely why the campaign #MenEndFGM is changing the narrative, to include men and boys in the fight against FGM, and other harmful practices in communities.

One thought on “Let’s Change the Narrative on FGM!

  1. Fredrick nkoitoi says:

    It’s fantastic getting men saving our own ladies from the vice. May the girls get educated of this and know how to escape and overcome.
    Aluta continua💖💖

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