ZERO TOLERANCE ON FGM CAMPAIGN
YWCA Kisii Branch situated in Nyanza province in the western region of Kenya, covers 3 counties; Nyamira, Kisii and part of Migori. Kisii is one of the Branches that has been championing the fight to end the practice of female genital mutilation and bringing girls and women together in an effort to respond to social, economic, political and cultural issues affecting them.
Through this project, the Branch targets, opinion leaders, girls, boys, parents, nurses and circumcisers. Through training of trainers, a pool of community based outreach trainers are facilitated to carry out sensitization and awareness creation on the negative effects of FGM. This is part of the sustainability strategy to ensure communities are continually engaged on the issue.
On the FGM Zero Tolerance Day, the Branch conducted an activity with 10 chiefs from the 10 sub counties, 7 clan elders, 5 local pastors and 8 women leaders. This was partly to assess how far the community has embraced change in terms of abandonment of FGM.
- To engage pastors and chiefs to be agents of change to influence communities to change norms and attitude towards the harmful practice of FGM.
- To carry out discussions on the 2011 Prohibition of FGM Law and its implementation. The law provides for, protection from and prevention of FGM as well as advocacy promoting the rights of women and girls.
Community responses and perception to FGM
- FGM was in the past done as a big celebration which included dance and festivities with friends and relatives. The law has however led to the practice going underground and no more public celebrations. This however does not mean the practice has stopped but has only been silenced.
- Medicalization is a new phenomenon, as many parents seek health care providers to perform the cut on their daughters. This is with the belief that medical practitioners reduce the health risks to the girls because they are skilled health professionals unlike the traditional circumcisers. 48% of FGM in Kisii is carried out by health professionals.
- Lowering of the cutting age to very tender ages.
- Sending the young girls to rural homes and across borders to evade the law.
- FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
- Every duty bearer should do their work e.g. teachers, police, chiefs etc. to educate communities and protect girls and women.
- Community members don’t report cases of FGM for fear of creating tension within their circles.
- The different stakeholders often address the immediate causes of FGM and leave the root causes which are cultural, normative and aligned to the hierarchy of patriarchy.
With duty bearers taking responsibility the practice will gradually decline.
- Religious leaders to dialogue on FGM in churches and mosques; Chiefs to address the issue of FGM during the barazas; and women during their organized women meetings (chama). This will intensify advocacy against FGM.
- Community dialogues for enhanced mindset change in practicing communities. This is a long term outcome that needs patience and continuous dialogue to create the needed change.
- Health care service providers to have increased knowledge on to handle survivors of FGM seeking medical attention.