FGM in Kenya

  • Date: 29/11/2016
  • Author: Rodney Rice
Students Abigail (L) and Purity (R) in their dormitory in West Pokot, Kenya.

The Horrors of FGM

An extract from ActionAid Chairman and former RTE Broadcaster Rodney Rice’s article on FGM. Taken from the Tuesday 29th November 2016 edition of The Irish Times. 

“There is no delicate way to tell this story of the horrific abuse of women and girls. At 10 years of age, Abigael Nalem took the biggest decision of her young life – she ran away from home. She did not know where to go or how to get there, she just knew that she must flee.

Her mother had just told Abigael that she was to be circumcised. She may have used that word or, more colloquially, said Abigael was to be “cut”. She certainly would not have used the term which most accurately describes what she intended to happen to her young daughter – female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C).

Across 28 countries in Africa, millions of girls are subjected to what is claimed to be an age-old cultural practice. FGM/C is now outlawed in 24 of those countries, but it is still carried out in secret rather than, as formerly, in a village ceremony.

Like her mother, her grandmothers and preceding female generations, Abigael’s future had been preordained by patriarchy. A child today, tomorrow she would be a woman ready for marriage.

“I said, how can this be? I am 10, I am too young. I remembered a women’s network came to the village talking about FGM/C and how they can help us. So when my parents sent me to look after the farm, I got a chance to run away and eventually reached the women’s network, who brought me to this school. I had never been to school and I didn’t even know how to write. I am so happy I was able to escape the pain. You can bleed and you can die.”

Read the full article in The Irish Times. In Kenya ActionAid’s programme supported by Irish Aid has reduced FGM by 27% since 2012. ActionAid also works with migrant women and girls and their communities living in Ireland through AFTER (Against FGM Through Empowerment and Rejection) which is supported by the EC.

Photo Caption: Abigael (L) and her childhood friend Purity.

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