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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid