1 February 2013

Kenya: Abolishing Female Genital Mutilation Through Grassroots Education

Photo: IRIN
An increasing number of Kenyan men speak out against FGM (file photo).

A video obtained by Think Africa Press shows the work of a Kenyan NGO in educating local women leaders about the dangers of female genital cutting.

This video, obtained by Think Africa Press, follows the work of Kenyan NGO Rural Women Peace Link (RWPL). Operating in the Pokot area of western Kenya, the groups show a documentary about the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM) to a group of women leaders from the community. The meeting ends with women who used to perform circumcisions telling the women in the audience that they now refuse to circumcise.

It is estimated that FGM affects 140 million women worldwide, while a further 2 million are at risk every year.

Women who have undergone FGM can experience serious health problems and are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth. But the main challenge faced by organisations aiming to eradicate FGM is its status as a cultural practice in many rural communities.

One girl in the film tells RWPL of how her father disowned her after she refused to undergo FGM, stating that she had dishonoured her family in front of the community.

Major success has been made against FGM in recent years. Since the instigation of a UN project in 2008 it is estimated that 6,000 villages and communities in six countries have renounced the practice.

The members of RWPL are an important part of these successes, educating women at the level of the grassroots.

The meeting shown in the video ends with women who used to perform circumcisions saying they now vehemently refuse to participate in the practice; one former circumciser says she would call the police if she found anyone performing FGM.

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