Glady's, HFAW's CHHRP teaching
Dear Friends and Partners
Our latest strategy to end FGM has been focused on men involvement. We have discovered that men blindly support FGM and more so keep hands off in an assumption that FGM is a woman’s issue. Men in Kisii often argue that it is the women who cut girls so, we should focus on women. Our previous conversations with women reveal that women bear this painful act because the men have not agreed to end it. The men still prefer cut women as they believe that these women are more submissive and more “respectable.” In our opinion respect here means women who cannot question men’s authority even when men do things which they should be held to account such as having extra marital affairs.
During our men’s trainings we discussed topics such as human rights, domestic violence, the root causes of FGM, the health consequences of FGM, how FGM affects sexual and intimate relationships and sometimes lead to family break-ups, living with FGM survivors, and children’s rights to mention a few. A highly participatory training reaching over 53 men in one week confirmed to us that indeed men will listen and will end FGM if they can be well involved on what FGM really is. Those men who took this training made profound discoveries. As an example, here is what Mugendi, not his real name, said:
“My name is Makori, a husband and father of two. There are things you have shared that are profoundly true in my own home. My wife has suffered in ways that are difficult to describe. Of course like many women in this village she went through the cut. I am shocked. I have understood why my wife went through excess pain during childbirth, her constant pain during intimacy, and so she is in constant painkillers. I thought I was going to lose her. We stopped at to children because of these challenges. She often complains of feeling pain inside her hips. Today I have understood her. Probably the pain emanated from people sitting on her during FGM causing some dislocations. Probably the cut interfered with her genitalia. Hence she experienced excess pain and took long to heal after birth. I am so shocked. I cannot allow my daughter, cousin or any other person’s daughter to undergo FGM. You have impacted me with knowledge that I can use to bring change to our community.”
When we discussed gender based violence, the facilitator explained that rape, and even in marriage is a serious violence to a woman. Men laughed because they did not see how you can rape your wife. The facilitator explained what rape means. Isaac explained much to a big round of applause from the entire room that “She will never agree to it (meaning sex) unless I force her.” That almost all men agreed that that is how intimate life happens in their homes did not surprise us having heard these from the women.
What was so important is the discovery by men that “I did not know that FGM has a lot do to with what is going on in our bedrooms” said Isaac. In addition, men wanted to know how to deal with survivors of FGM. Thomas asked, “How can I make my wife share with me this issues you have shared.” To which our survivor facilitator responded that “yes, we can talk, we can have fulfilling sexual lives if only you as our husbands can be patient, gentle and supportive with the knowledge that a cut woman takes longer to get her sexual satisfaction.” Men continued to clap their hands and verbally made commitment to join the anti-FGM movement in Kisii community.
Friends, you have been instrumental in empowering and protecting girls and women through supporting trainings like this one. We appeal to you not to relent. Help us raise resources that will sustain the team in reaching out to more men in the community.
Mr. Orina on how to live with FGM survivors
Participants engaging during the evaluation
Participant giving his opinion