KENYA: Female Cut Is Uncivilised

That some Kenyan communities still perform female circumcision as a rite of passage is absurd and surprising. Female genital mutilation, as lobbies call it, was first performed in South America and the Middle East where it has since been denounced. 

But some African communities are stuck to it despite its harmful social and health effects. 

The practice persists in Kenya although it was banned by President Moi in 1982. A Nation education and culture report of September 27 showed that Kuria District in particular is still struggling to come out of the tradition. And a couple of weeks ago, a newspaper headline screamed: Girl, 11, Bleeds to Death After Circumcision.

The incident which, according to the story, happened at the Daadab refugee camp, raises a number of questions. Did the little girl deserve to die in such a manner? What was the operation’s significance? How many girls suffer the same fate in Kenya, but the cases are not reported? 

Julia T. Wood, in her book, Gendered Lives, estimates that 140 million women have been circumcised worldwide and 87 per cent of them developed reproductive complications. 

While male circumcision involves the removal of the foreskin for hygienic or medical reasons, that of females is based on myths and superstitions. One of them is that the practice safeguards a girl’s virginity and controls her sexuality.

Some communities believe that women should be sexually “pure” and that the cut makes them achieve the so-called purity. How backward can they be! 

Traditionally, marriage is considered the only career for most African women. It is this tradition that justifies female circumcision as a way of preparing a young girl for it and child bearing. 

But how does it prepare her for child bearing if the birth canal is left scarred and deformed? Circumcision is actually the cause of most still births and increased delivery difficulties. 

The severity of its long-term effects makes the practice more destructive than lucrative. This is why NGOs call it genital mutilation. 

After it the victim undergoes difficult relations and reduced sexual sensitivity. She no longer believes in herself and this affects her psychologically and socially.


AUTHOR: Victor Mwene

URL: Click here

DATE: 06/10/2007

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