News / Africa

Some Kenyan Families Caught in Middle of FGM Debate

The Kuria tribe of Kenya is one of dozens still practicing female genital mutilation.  But now they are facing a cultural crisis, as those girls who are circumcised are dropping out of school to marry, while those who want to continue their education have to fight against tradition. 

In a remote rural district in the southwest of Kenya, students as young as four study in windowless classrooms made of iron sheeting.

In this school most of the teenagers are boys.  Very few girls can be seen.  The Kuria community is struggling to keep girls in school, and some blame the practice of female genital mutilation, which signals their transition into adulthood.

Fourteen-year-old Faith Gati is fighting against centuries of practice. Gati skipped a circumcision ceremony last December and moved from one village to another to avoid the cut.

“My father said I should be circumcised," she said.  "When the time came to be circumcised mum took me to my uncle’s place.  My father would beat my mother.  My uncle took to me to Taarime in Tanzania.  The ritual started again and my father came looking for me.”

The Kuria community does a circumcision ceremony once every two years.   

Gati’s younger sister, who is 11, has undergone the cut.

But Faith Gati has refused.  She says circumcision has prevented girls from achieving their goals, since the culture now treats them like adults, when in a real sense they are still minors.

“I don’t want to undergo circumcision; it spoils many girls,” she said. “I saw my uncle’s wife in Dar es Salaam, she is well educated and she is employed by a big company I envied her and I want to be like her.”

Gati’s mother, Cicilia Suguta, who is still nursing serious injuries in her arms and back from her husband’s beatings, notes the only way her daughter can achieve her dreams is to be uncircumcised, despite challenges from her husband and the community.

“Our girls who are circumcised they think they are grown ups and don’t want to listen to anyone,” she said.  “Even if you talk to them about education they don’t want to know and even understand what you are talking about.  They say even if I don’t get education I will be married.”

Mnanga Musira is one of the elders involved in the anti-FGM campaign funded by the United Nations Population Fund.  He says girls should be given the chance to decide if they want to undergo the cut or not.

“As an elder I would go direct to my chief and report anyone who is circumcising young girls," he said. "I don’t want someone to bring shame to my area forcefully circumcising young girls.  I ask as young as she is what has she done to deserve that pain?”

In the Kuria community the ceremony will be held again in December 2014.  Gati says she will still run away when the time comes and her mother will stand with her daughter even if it means being chased and beaten by her husband again.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs