Context and impact of female genital mutilation in Kenya Nginyang Division, East Pokot District, Kenya

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Kampala International University; College of Education Open and Distance Learning
This study was conducted in Nginyang Divisions in East Pokot District, Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The overall objective was to establish the contextual factors influencing the practice of female circumcision - FGM and its consequences on women and girls in Ninyang. The study adopted a cross-sectional survey research design. It targeted fathers, mothers, young adult males and females aged between 12 and 20 years, and a number of key informants. To elicit the relevant data, quantitative data collection methods were used. Quantitative data were collected using a structured questionnaire from a sample 120 of respondents. The collected data were analyzed within the context of each specific objective. The study established that the prevalence rate of FGM was 71.7 percent. However, the prevalence among mothers was higher 90% than the girls 53.3% the median age at circumcision was 15.0 years with a range of between 12 and 16 years. Circumcised girls and mothers were aware of the part of the body removed and all underwent infibulations type of circumcision (Type III). In traditional context, circumcision was conducted using a shared traditionally-made knife, while one razor blade per initiate is used currently. Circumcision was predominantly performed in a secluded place at the home of one of the initiates. The family and the community played a prominent role in the decision to circumcise a girl. However, the immediate family members, especially the girl, mother and father, play a firsthand role in the decision with the fathers making the final ruling. There is a lot of significance attached to FGM incorporating both social and economic connotations at the individual, household and community levels. FGM is practiced because it is a good tradition, customs and tradition demand, for social acceptance and better marriage prospects. It was this social and economic significance that perpetuated the practice in the community. However, FGM had both immediate and long-term socioeconomic, health and psychological consequences on the girl child. FGM at times causes irreversible, life-long risks at the time of the actual operation, and during urination, menstruation, consummation of marriage (sex) and childbirth. Socially, it affects girls' education and leads to loss of opportunity for self-development and achievement of self-ideals. The health consequences include excessive bleeding, severe pain, urinary retention and infections, prolonged and obstructed labour, and blood infection. The psychological effects include the dilemma between identities, sense of belonging and pain which cause internal conflict within a young girl resulting to psychological trauma and loss of self-esteem. This cause psychosexual and psychological health as the removed part of the body may leave a lasting mark on the life and mind of the woman. There were several efforts in the community and the country at large to eliminate FGM. The efforts were spearheaded by local community awareness and involvement in activities against FGM, government previous and existing policy and program interventions, and private organizations. However, there was lack of relevant government sectoral policies and legislation that support elimination of the practice. There was also lack of proper coordination and understanding of how to effectively address FGM. This was therefore rendering all the available but disjointed legislative tools ineffective to facilitate elimination of FGM in the communities. The government efforts to eliminate FGM through enactment of policies and programs had bore little success due to lack of proper structures to coordinate and operationalize them. Most of the activities had therefore been shouldered by the civil society organizations, religious bodies and the private sector. These organizations work through partnerships with the local communities. The main challenges facing them include their limited scope defined by scarce resources, lack of cooperation by the local communities, lack of adequate collaboration and sharing of resources among stakeholders. The most appropriate people to be targeted in the campaign against FGM are parents, community leaders, girls and religious leaders and to a lesser extent teachers, boys and politicians; while the most appropriate channels for reaching the community and the target groups were Baraza, religious leaders and community leaders in cultural ceremonies. A majority of the respondents welcome the participation of NGOs in the campaign against FGM. The community was aware of several activities and messages against FGM. The common sources were religious leaders, NGOs, radio, government and schools. The activities target the entire community, especially parents, girls and community leaders. However, there were remarkable difference in the support and satisfaction with activities and messages against FGM. A Majority of the community leaders, uneducated parents and traditional practitioners were not satisfied; while young people, religious leaders and health workers were satisfied and in support. Based on the findings, the study recommends that there: need to create an enabling environment that supports change with the government spearheading the process in partnership with civil society organizations; need to increase advocacy and awareness campaigns about the consequences of FGM; need to empowering traditional practitioners so as to abandon performing the practice; introduce alternative rites of passage that preserve the positive socio-cultural aspects of FGM and uphold the community values, aspirations and the societal fabrics; improve access and equity of girls to educational opportunities; training and working with health care providers and workers; training and working with teachers in schools; and institute research and monitoring and evaluation programs.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Award of Bachelor of Science with Education Degree of Kampala International University.
Female genital mutilation, East Pokot District,, Kenya