More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It involves the use of crude tools like the ones inset. It is a barbaric act that needs to be stopped as soon as yesterday. FGM is still being practiced in so many countries across the globe but mostly in Africa. In Nigeria alone, about 20 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation contributing to 10% of the global total. Other African countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Somalia have also recorded high numbers of the FGM victims.
According to the communities that practice FGM, its aim is to transform girls to “women”. Remember these include girls as young as 14 years of age who are supposed to be focused on their studies. Most girls drop out of school because they are now considered “wife material”. Why would you force a 14 year old girl to think like a thirty year old? Immediately after undergoing the cut, their parents are involved in searching for suitable husbands for them who will bring dowry to their families. They now focus on giving birth to as many kids as the husband wants. The value of the girl/woman relies entirely on whether she’s been cut or not.
In my community, girls who have gone to university are regarded highly by the society. Girls who forego FGM and get educated have a higher status in the society, than those who are uncut and uneducated. Educated girls and women increase women leadership which would strengthen their voices against FGM. In fact, in the village,men fear approaching educated women.
And if you look closely at the trends, you’ll notice that uneducated women are the ones who’ll have as many as eight children, with no family planning knowledge or skills to take care of these children. And the worst thing is that they’re married off to older men old enough to be their grand fathers.
There are high chances of a 14 year old girl having complications during pregnancy. Complicated child birth, psychological trauma and physical abuse just to mention a few. What kind of conversion would a 14 year old and 60 year old engage in? Since most of these girls are uneducated, they don’t have a say in that kind of relationship.
In Kenya, FGM is still being practiced though in the rate has greatly reduced. There are a good number of women in different communities like the Maasai who are championing for the rights of young girls affected by this vice. However, this should involve more stakeholders who will take positive action against such abuse which includes supporting victims, ensuring a full risk assessment is carried out and, where appropriate, conducting a vigorous investigation.
It is against the law to carry out, aid or abet any form of FGM and this is why it is so important that we do all we can to get the message out there and raise awareness on the importance of shunning the act and embracing education. That’s why at Shaboard, we are working towards keeping girls in class because we know educated girls and women are a force for change.
I believe education is the only tool that can help fight this vice. Educated women have independent thoughts. Educated women are empowered women. Empowering women means empowering communities. According to the UN Foundation, women reinvest 90 percent of their income back into their families, while men reinvest only 30-40 percent.
Educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school.
And by the way, remember to vote for us in the 2017 BAKE Awards