Educating Kenyan Parents on the Dangers of FGM

Parental perception of the harms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a key component in curbing the practice of this dangerous tradition in Kenya.

In addition to providing our Alternative Rite of Passage program, which offers Kenyan girls a healthy alternative to female circumcision, Women’s Global also facilitates conversations with Kenyan parents about FGM and attitudes regarding its practice.

The Women’s Global’s FGM Campaign Support program is getting parents to open up about their views on FGM, and the messages they hear surrounding FGM in their communities. Despite a growing perception that the practice is outdated, as well as the efforts of some churches and public forums to continue to publicize the dangers of FGM, many parents remain committed to this unsafe practice.

An April meeting between Women’s Global’s Kenya-based partner organization, and the parents of a number of primary and secondary school students, resulted in a frank discussion of the harmful effects of FGM. Parents were informed that the risks associated with the practice of FGM include death; excessive bleeding, which may lead to anaemia; STIs and HIV/AIDS infections; development of keloids and other scars; complications when giving birth; pain and shock; a physical wound; and loss of a vital body part.

Those parents who participated in the conversation are reported to have enjoyed the talk, and those who had daughters who had not yet attended our Alternative Rite of Passage seminar promised to allow them to attend this year. We sincerely hope they will keep their word.

Changing longstanding attitudes toward FGM is by no means simple  — we know this — but we also know health and safety are inherent parts of any woman’s ability to thrive.

August 7th, 2013