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Shocking myths that impede war on Female Genital Mutilation

By Lonah Kibet | February 8th 2016

The fight against female circumcision is being hampered by myths, Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board Chair Jebii Kilimo has said.

"Some people believe that if you get married without undergoing the cut, you will not be able to take care of your family properly. One myth is that you cannot milk a cow because it will dry up or that you will have a third leg, among others. People don't want to take risk let it happens to them," said Ms Kilimo.

She added that other reasons include women being forced to undergo the cut so that their husbands are socially accepted by their peers and the fact that the current generation does not want to break a trend passed down from generation to generation.

The board chair spoke as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation 2016 was celebrated over the weekend under the theme 'Achieving the new global goals through the elimination of FGM by 2030.'

She noted despite the FGM Act, which provides that those performing the act be arrested and charged in a court of law, the Government is faced with the challenge of arresting the perpetrators.

"Due to their high esteem in the villages where they double up as midwives, no one is willing to report them, hence they carry out their businesses unchallenged," she said.

Other communities have also devised ways to carry out the practice without attracting attention.

"There is a changing trend on where and how the cut is being performed. In the past, there used to be celebration but now it is all silent. People are carrying out the practice in private in places such as their homes or forests," she said.

Positive results

She added: "We are banking on the Nyumba Kumi initiative to assist us in reporting those practising the vice because this is where we are still seeing an uphill task."

But despite all these barriers, the Government and its partners have made tremendous strides towards eliminating FGM. According to Kilimo, their advocacy on the dangers associated with FGM has had impact in some areas.

Speaking to The Standard, she noted that since they started interacting with communities and putting a human face to the vice, positive results have been realised.

She gave the example of a village in Samburu East, whose residents have started to shun the practice.

Kilimo noted that some fathers have also come forward to say that their daughters will not go through the ritual after watching a video of what really happens.

"People don't even know what is being cut. We show them videos of what really goes on when one is undergoing the cut and we have received positive responses especially, from fathers," said Kilimo. Kilimo said the board also held successful talks in Kajiado County with the help of Woman Rep Mary Seneta.

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