At least 200 million living girls and women have been circumcised in 31 countries (Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – UNICEF data).
What is FGM?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Most communities in the world practice FGM as a rite of passage. Some girls go through it voluntarily, while others are forcibly cut, causing injuries that sometimes never end.
Article 25 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being” and this claim has been used to argue that FGM violates the right to health and physical integrity.
In Kenya, the 2010 Constitution protects children and women from abuse, harmful cultural practices and all forms of violence. The Government of Kenya has passed legislation banning FGM in the Female Genital Mutilation Prohibition Act 2011 and the Children Act 2022. It is a crime, with or without the consent of the victim, to perform FGM and is punishable by law. In fact, it is prohibited in Kenya.
A voice for the voiceless
“Our life begins to end the day we stop talking about important things.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
From January 17 to 20, 2023, the Bible Society of Kenya recruited 83 girls (12-19 years old) from the Kuria community, Migori district, some of whom were forced into FGM. Some, however, are runaway schoolgirls who ran away before they were acted upon between November and December 2022.
During this period, four Kuria clans from Nyabasi, Bwirege, Bukira and Bugumba, in both Kenya and Tanzania, undertook female genital mutilation, causing girls to flee to Komotobo rescue centres, Taranganya Girls, Safe Engage Foundation, Gosenso and Ravin. rescue centers to prevent cuts.
Through the BSK Trauma Healing program, the girls at the Komotobo Mission Center in Kuriya East had a platform where they could share their pain, pass it on to Jesus on the cross, begin healing, and build resilience as they move forward.
In a society where the institution of elders is highly respected, refusing a knife is taboo. The community believes that the elders have mythical power, and their word is law. It is the elders who schedule the circumcision and coordinate the FGM. Parents are also supporters of this backward practice that is so rooted in the heart of this community.
Some of the reasons why FGM is practiced are:
- This is a rite of passage – the path to femininity.
- Women don’t have to be educated. Education is a priority for boys.
- Control girls’ sexuality by curbing sexual desires and making them faithful wives.
- This is a prerequisite for marriage.
- The girls’ parents are keen to see their daughters undergo FGM in order to increase their dowry.
- Ignorance/lack of impact/education.
Girls who cut themselves or run away are left with wounds that rob them of their identity, dignity and are at increased risk of dropping out of school. Most of them grow up hating their parents and feeling unloved as the effects of the injury have taken root in their hearts.
- Risks of infections
- Deprive of sexual pleasure
- Complications during childbirth
- Severe bleeding leading to death
- Deprived of education
When girls tell their horror stories, one involuntarily wonders how the state helps such children. Unfortunately, the elected leaders and representatives of the people will not oppose FGM, so as not to lose the favor of society.
Because some girls fear excommunication and labels that don’t define them, they fall into the trap of this backward practice. However, we thank God for the opportunity to tell the lives of such girls among many, even if they wonder why such bad things as FGM happen to them and cause so much suffering. Grateful for being a part of restoring their dignity, as we have confirmed that they are a true giver of personality, that they matter and are still loved in the eyes of God.
The girls were given practical examples of letting go of bad touching, sexuality, forgiving criminals, transferring pain to Jesus, and reclaiming their lives. As they studied Joseph’s story of how God restored him even after he went through suffering, the beautiful young girls were encouraged, encouraged, and reaffirmed that God’s purpose for their lives is still good and valid.
Toward the end of class, the girls thanked the BS Kenya team for defending their course and reminding them that they are still important to God and people. However, fear is what happens to them when they return home in preparation for the reopening of the school, which continues. Will their guardians accept them? Will they be kidnapped, kidnapped, butchered and forced into marriage?