A PARTICIPANT AT AN ANTI FGM SEMINAR
In August, Cherish Others Organization Kenya conducted a five day Alternative Rite of Passage for thirty girls, in Kilgoris. The training focused on FGM and reproductive Health. The girls who participated in this seminar complained that their mothers were the main influencing group that literally pushed them to go through FGM. The girls’ mothers organized for the operation to take place including making arrangements for the feast that would take place afterward the cutting was done. The parents convinced them that FGM was good for them due to the following reasons,
· As a rite of passage
· To curb promiscuity
· To prepare the girls for marriage
· Uplift their social status amongst their peer
· To be able to bear pain/ tolerance
· To make child birth easier
· To keep the external genitalia clean
In the training session, the girls learned that early marriage subjected the girl to a lot of economic and physical pressures since they had to fend for their children from an early age. A newly wed girl found herself faced with a heap of family responsibilities and in addition she had to earn a living by engaging in activities such as burning and selling charcoal, hawking milk, tobacco snuff and other farm produce. Excessive physical stress and survival under such hardships were responsible for the deaths of the girls even before they attained age of fifty years old.
The girls were awarded with certificates of participation, gifts and sanitary towels.
Community mobilization, home visits and after training follow-up visits were a regular activity which was accomplished by Project Officers and a community based network of volunteers.