News / Africa

Some Kenyan Families Caught in Middle of FGM Debate

TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid