World Vision Kenya
Press Release • Tuesday, February 7th 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C)

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Safe houses provide a lifeline for girl child not to undergo Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) 

  • A girl’s genitals are cut after every 10 seconds.
  • Globally, over 200 million girls have undergone FGM.
  • In Kenya, 27 percent of girls have undergone FGM
  • One in five women and girls aged between 15 to 49 have undergone FGM
  • Majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old

Nairobi, Kenya, 6th February 2016- Global figures suggest that a girl’s genitals are cut after every 10 seconds.It is estimated, three million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year. The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old (UNICEF, 2016). So far, over 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced by some ethnic groups in Kenya as well as in other East African countries. It is motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour for women and what is necessary to prepare them for marriage (WHO, 2014). According to UNICEF state of affairs for 2013, 9.3 million women and girls, or 27 per cent of all women and girls in Kenya have undergone genital mutilation. Placing Kenya 17th among the 29 countries in Africa that carry out the practice. In the Samburu and Somalia community in Kenya, nine in 10 girls have undergone the female cut. While five percent of women and six percent of men believe that circumcision is required by their religion (KDHS 2014).

“Girls between the ages of 0 to14 are more likely to undergo FGM if their mother underwent through the traditional FGM practice.” said World Vision Kenya National Director Dickens Thunde.

He adds that “It is at an alarming rate, we need to consider the fact that 20 percent of Kenyan girls are child brides, and millions of them will have undergone customary FGM activity in communities that value such a practice.”

According to key findings from the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), it reported that 21 percent of women between the ages of 15 to 49 have undergone FGM or the cut. There is some evidence of a trend over time to mutilate girls at a younger age. The report sheds  light on the fact that 21 percent of women who have undergone FGM at the age of 20 to 24 were circumcised when they were between the age of 5 and 9 years as compared with 17 percent of women circumcised at the age of 45 to 49 years.

“Out of five girls and women in Kenya one has been circumcised. In some areas, the rates are as high as 98 percent of girls have undergone the cut” said Mr. Thunde.

The 2014 KDHS findings, indicate that girls between 0 to14 years are more likely to be infibulated if their mother is also infibulated (cutting with flesh removed, and nine percent had their genital area sewn or closed after cutting.) While eight percent of girls aged between 0 to14 have had their genital area sewn closed and eleven percent or less of women and men believe that the practice of female genital cutting is required by their community or their religion or that the practice should continue.

With respect to the type of circumcision conducted, two percent of circumcised women aged between 15 to 49 years had cutting with no flesh removed. While 87 percent had cutting with flesh removed, and nine percent had their genital area sewn or closed after cutting. Such type of a cut and process is traditional in some northeastern African cultures but is highly controversial.

“Although the prevalence rates of  FGM have dropped in recent years in Kenya, three million girls are still cut every year globally .Every one of them will suffer long term emotional and physical pain, we all need to do more to end FGM.” said Mr. Thunde.

The International day of Zero Tolerance for FGM is held on 6th February, to shine a light on the sheer scale of female genital mutilation and how it devastates the lives of young girls and women.

World Vision Kenya safe houses help protect girls from FGM across Kenya.  It is the only Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) that works in Narok region, where our safe-houses provide sanctuary for girls living in fear of being cut.

“Safe houses protect girls at risk of FGM and the inevitable child marriage that follows the traumatic procedure.” said Mr. Thunde

World Vision Kenya supports girls like sixteen-year-old Antonina who now advocates for an end to FGM.

“My dad ordered me to stop schooling and get apprenticed by women as I matured for the cut. My mother resisted the idea but she was shut down. He wanted me mutilated and married off in exchange for cattle and goats,” says Antonina.

“Although my father has disowned me for not honoring him, I know, I was right to choose education over FGM. Today, when I go back home, girls who used to view me as unfashionable, now consider me a champion.”

Antonina now mentors other children in her community.

“It takes the whole community to end FGM. Promoting education for girls, alternative rights of passage, re-training FGM practitioners and re-educating parents are just some of the ways we are employing to tackle FGM,” said Mr. Thunde.

Despite recording some gains in the past few years, Kenya remains in the red with one of the world's highest prevalence rates of FGM estimated to be 21 percent among women aged 15 to 49. World Vision experts say the prevalence of FGM in the East African country vary widely across age, location, ethnic group, and religion. These factors have led World Vision Kenya to devise various intervention methods to curb the practice of FGM among the most affected communities.

About World Vision Kenya

World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. World Vision began operations in Kenya in 1974 and currently has slightly over 1,000 development staff members working in 52 Area Development Programmes in 35 counties, countrywide. Through valued partnerships, we support communities to improve the well-being of children, especially the most vulnerable. Our aspiration is that all children will enjoy good health, be educated for life, be cared for and protected, and experience the love of God and their neighbours. 

Facts on Female Genital Mutilation or the Cut:

World Vision Kenya is working closely with its partners in the 17 early marriages and FGM hot spots, with an aim of ending Child Marriages and Accelerating Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting. Without progress to prevent child marriage, the number of girls married as children will double by 2050, and Africa will surpass South Asia as the region with the highest number of child brides in the world (UNICEF).

 

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World Vision Kenya

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May Ondeng

Email: May_Ondeng@wvi.org

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