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14. Family Pressure on Young Girls for Genitalia Mutilation Continues in Kenya

In Kamunera location of Mt. Elgon District in Kenya, more than 100 girls were rescued by the Maendeleo ya Wanawake organization before facing genital mutiliation, a practice still widespread in spite of government attempts to end the practice. Female genital mutiliation (FGM), which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, is a ritual carried out by traditional circumcisers on approximately one-fourth of girls in the country. Girls as young as nine were rescued, some of whom had been threated with death if they tried to escape, many severely traumatized by pre-ritual preparations.

Communities often look down upon and discriminate against girls who are not circumcised, even to the point of parents disowning their daughters who refuse. Some of these young girls are still in hiding. Children are told they will never marry because no men will want them if they do not undergo the mutiliation.Girls rarely are schooled beyond Standard Eight, as they are often married off young and told their place is to take care of men, not to pursue education. Due to this pressure many young girls agree to go through with the rites of passage expected of them.

Efforts by the government and NGOs continue in an attempt to bring to an end this brutal practice.

Source:

“Kenyan Parents disown their children for fleeing female circumcision,” Erick Ngobilo, Daily Nation, February 6 2011. http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Parents%20disown%20girls%20for%20evading%20the%20cut/-/1056/1102708/-/kdcr7jz/-/index.html

Student Researcher: Nzinga Dotson-Newman, Sonoma State University

Faculty Evaluator:  Matthew Paolucci, Sonoma State University

  • John Dennis Roberts October 21, 2011

    Whilst bringing to an end the practice of female circumcision may in western eyes be seen as entirely laudable, it must nonetheless be understood as a cultural practice that has as much legitimacy within those societies which practice it as any cultural practice as any to be found in Europe or north America. Campaigns to ban things just because they are not in keeping with the norms of western societies is just a form of cultural imperialism.

    • zulu127 December 24, 2011

      Yeah, like male genital mutilation in the US.

      • John Dennis Roberts January 3, 2012

        Agreed,  just like male circumcision in the USA and elsewhere.

        Now I’m not saying that circumcision (whether male or female) is necessarily a good thing, but what I am saying is that if change is to come it must do so from within those societies themselves and must not be imposed from outside.

    • Guest January 17, 2012

      No, thanks, the societal equality shtick doesn’t work.

      I am an intellectual, a hedonist, and live on an ethos based in empathy.  There’s no “moral code” that applies more equally than such.  This is causing harm to a child, and even to the point of causing harm to people who do not wish to be harmed.

      This isn’t about norms.  This is about harming other sentient beings.  Pay attention, please.

      Also, most traditions aren’t innately a grand thing, the fact that it’s a “Cultural Tradition” instead of something that’s based in direct function is quite the issue.

      It’s why it’s done as much as to whom it’s done and that it’s done at all.

      • John18551 January 19, 2012

        “I am an intellectual, a hedonist, and live on an ethos based in empathy.  There’s no “moral code” that applies more equally than such.”

        And who says that… you?  What if I disagree?

        “This is causing harm to a child, and even to the point of causing harm to people who do not wish to be harmed.”

        How do you define ‘harm’?  In societies that practice female circumcision not being circumcised tends to render you unmarriagable.  Is being unmarried – and thus a social outcast – not harmful?

        “This isn’t about norms. ”

        Yes it is!  If it’s not ‘norms’ we are talking about then what else is it?  Are we not talking about the normative behaviour of others in relation to ourselves?

        • Expand your Mind sometimes June 6, 2012

          I see u must have miss the part in the article about the girls being traumatized from THE PREPARATIONS, they haven’t even done it yet! also the part about the DEATH THREATS if they refuse or try to leave! Even if this was about the “norms” Where in your mind does this fit in with anything normal?
          This sounds too close to america’s media. “renders u unmarriagable” lol please i’m sure the 8 year olds would rather not scream every time they piss VS another human to care for.

      • Machinists_Mate February 9, 2012

        Why wasn’t I rescued from the hospital before I was allowed to be circumcised? There are many different traditions in cultures around the world that aren’t appealing to the rest of the world. You’re exercising the common, yet unfortunate, American belief that we’re better than everyone else and have the right to determine what’s right and wrong in other places.

        • Reg April 11, 2012

          Losing you foreskin does not give you pain for the rest of your life and make normal physical  functions a health risk. In fact, it lowers your risk of serveral diseases. It may over-stimulate your glans and affect your personality however…

  • Anonymous October 21, 2011

    Whilst bringing to an end the practice of female circumcision may in western eyes be seen as entirely laudable, it must nonetheless be understood as a cultural practice that has as much legitimacy within those societies which practice it as any cultural practice as any to be found in Europe or north America. Campaigns to ban things just because they are not in keeping with the norms of western societies is just a form of cultural imperialism.

    • zulu127 December 24, 2011

      Yeah, like male genital mutilation in the US.

      • Anonymous January 3, 2012

        Agreed,  just like male circumcision in the USA and elsewhere.

        Now I’m not saying that circumcision (whether male or female) is necessarily a good thing, but what I am saying is that if change is to come it must do so from within those societies themselves and must not be imposed from outside.

    • Guest January 17, 2012

      No, thanks, the societal equality shtick doesn’t work.

      I am an intellectual, a hedonist, and live on an ethos based in empathy.  There’s no “moral code” that applies more equally than such.  This is causing harm to a child, and even to the point of causing harm to people who do not wish to be harmed.

      This isn’t about norms.  This is about harming other sentient beings.  Pay attention, please.

      Also, most traditions aren’t innately a grand thing, the fact that it’s a “Cultural Tradition” instead of something that’s based in direct function is quite the issue.

      It’s why it’s done as much as to whom it’s done and that it’s done at all.

    • Guest January 17, 2012

      No, thanks, the societal equality shtick doesn’t work.

      I am an intellectual, a hedonist, and live on an ethos based in empathy.  There’s no “moral code” that applies more equally than such.  This is causing harm to a child, and even to the point of causing harm to people who do not wish to be harmed.

      This isn’t about norms.  This is about harming other sentient beings.  Pay attention, please.

      Also, most traditions aren’t innately a grand thing, the fact that it’s a “Cultural Tradition” instead of something that’s based in direct function is quite the issue.

      It’s why it’s done as much as to whom it’s done and that it’s done at all.

      • John18551 January 19, 2012

        “I am an intellectual, a hedonist, and live on an ethos based in empathy.  There’s no “moral code” that applies more equally than such.”

        And who says that… you?  What if I disagree?

        “This is causing harm to a child, and even to the point of causing harm to people who do not wish to be harmed.”

        How do you define ‘harm’?  In societies that practice female circumcision not being circumcised tends to render you unmarriagable.  Is being unmarried – and thus a social outcast – not harmful?

        “This isn’t about norms. ”

        Yes it is!  If it’s not ‘norms’ we are talking about then what else is it?  Are we not talking about the normative behaviour of others in relation to ourselves?

        • Expand your Mind sometimes June 6, 2012

          I see u must have miss the part in the article about the girls being traumatized from THE PREPARATIONS, they haven’t even done it yet! also the part about the DEATH THREATS if they refuse or try to leave! Even if this was about the “norms” Where in your mind does this fit in with anything normal?
          This sounds too close to america’s media. “renders u unmarriagable” lol please i’m sure the 8 year olds would rather not scream every time they piss VS another human to care for.

      • Anonymous February 9, 2012

        Why wasn’t I rescued from the hospital before I was allowed to be circumcised? There are many different traditions in cultures around the world that aren’t appealing to the rest of the world. You’re exercising the common, yet unfortunate, American belief that we’re better than everyone else and have the right to determine what’s right and wrong in other places.

        • Reg April 11, 2012

          Losing you foreskin does not give you pain for the rest of your life and make normal physical  functions a health risk. In fact, it lowers your risk of serveral diseases. It may over-stimulate your glans and affect your personality however…

  • Ajrg54 January 12, 2012

    These are humans not social customs and this is more like chopping off a penis than circumcision in males. Some things like slavery and the death penalty are not a matter of the opinion of the majority. They are just wrong.

    • John18551 January 18, 2012

      If they are not the opinions of the majority, then whose opinions are they… the minority?  Should a minority of self-appointed ‘morally superior’ people outweigh the opinions of the ‘morally-superior’ majority because, at the end of the day, they areall just opinions.

    • Machinists_Mate February 9, 2012

      After their exterior genital area is removed, are they no longer able to have sex and produce children? Who said anything about slavery and the death penalty? And what gives you the right to say the death penalty is wrong, or any other matter? I don’t believe you’re a morally supreme being that has the right to constitute what is right and wrong to people in Kenya. 

  • Ajrg54 January 12, 2012

    These are humans not social customs and this is more like chopping off a penis than circumcision in males. Some things like slavery and the death penalty are not a matter of the opinion of the majority. They are just wrong.

    • John18551 January 18, 2012

      If they are not the opinions of the majority, then whose opinions are they… the minority?  Should a minority of self-appointed ‘morally superior’ people outweigh the opinions of the ‘morally-superior’ majority because, at the end of the day, they areall just opinions.

    • Anonymous February 9, 2012

      After their exterior genital area is removed, are they no longer able to have sex and produce children? Who said anything about slavery and the death penalty? And what gives you the right to say the death penalty is wrong, or any other matter? I don’t believe you’re a morally supreme being that has the right to constitute what is right and wrong to people in Kenya. 

  • Witchyny February 7, 2012

    It is wrong if it causes actual harm. Little girls die and or/suffer life long health problems from having their sex organs chopped off.

     It is time we stop defending traditions over progress. This is the reason we are facing an Israel/Iran nuclear war right now.
    Tradition and Religion-throw um out the door.

  • Witchyny February 7, 2012

    It is wrong if it causes actual harm. Little girls die and or/suffer life long health problems from having their sex organs chopped off.

     It is time we stop defending traditions over progress. This is the reason we are facing an Israel/Iran nuclear war right now.
    Tradition and Religion-throw um out the door.

  • Witchyny February 7, 2012

    It is wrong if it causes actual harm. Little girls die and or/suffer life long health problems from having their sex organs chopped off.

     It is time we stop defending traditions over progress. This is the reason we are facing an Israel/Iran nuclear war right now.
    Tradition and Religion-throw um out the door.

  • Reg April 11, 2012

    This is not traditional behavior as these people would have died out if they had been doing it for long. From my research, this is an activity inflicted by the Jesuits or some branch of theirs to restrain the sexuality of the African women who were well-appreciated for their healthy sex drive in a time when it was seen as a threat.

  • Reg April 11, 2012

    This is not traditional behavior as these people would have died out if they had been doing it for long. From my research, this is an activity inflicted by the Jesuits or some branch of theirs to restrain the sexuality of the African women who were well-appreciated for their healthy sex drive in a time when it was seen as a threat.

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