While the exact number is unknown, at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia have been subjected to female genital mutilation, or FGM, according to the UN Children’s Fund.
The World Health Organization calls FGM a procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
In lay terms, babies, girls and women are cut and their genitalia severed.
WHO underscores that it not only provides no health benefits, but may lead to a life-time of obstacles.
Furthermore, the majority of females who have been subjected to the practice are between infancy and age 15.
While marking this year’s International day of Zero for Tolerance to FGM in Meto, Kajiado Central, men, women, girls and boys got an opportunity to vent out on this outdated practice that is rampant in the county.
Nkele ole Mosiany, a local elder, left participants in stitches when he claimed that leaving girls without a cut will make them promiscuous and have uncontrollable appetite for sex.
“What is this you are coming to teach us? We have our age-long customs which our people have embraced since immemorial and it will be unfair to introduce cultures that do not make any sense to us,” said Mosiany.
But Elizabeth Turere, a middle-age village was quick to point out that the practice of FGM is disturbing children unnecessarily.
Mzee Supeet ole Mwanda pulled a swift one when he told the guests led by FGM board director Agnes Leina that he is opposed to leaving girls uncut.
“You are telling us our children do not concentrate in class after they have been cut. Do our children use their heads to think or sexual organs?” asked Mzee Mwanda.
At that point, everyone was left in stitches with laughter. But he however later changed his tone when he led the guests in a traditional prayer for the local people to embrace new methods of rites of passage.
“May the Lord of Mercy bless those who are bringing change to our people of Meto and may He change our minds so that we can leave FGM for good,” Mwanda said in his prayer forcing all those who had closed their eyes to open and confirm it the words were actually coming from the old man.
After Mama Tumpes Tukero, a long time practitioner of FGM but who has reformed, said she circumcised hundreds of girls in her prime for 20 years.
“I have seen it all but I have now changed. I am a changed woman and not the beast I was in my 20 years of cutting girls. Let us not change our habits and allow our children to go to school,” said Tukero.
Tukero was a special guest in the occasion and was invited by FGM board to go and preach against the vice in Meto.
She hails from Sajiloni area, former bedrock of FGM in the whole county, and one of her children, Esther Shapashina, once confronted the government over her support for FGM.
During the occasion, Leina said changing the community overnight to embrace new methods of rite of passage cannot work and requires time.
“Our people require time. They need to be taught, not once but many times in order for them to see sense,” said Leina.
Earlier on a school female teacher, while addressing the guest at Meto Primary School, said she had studied traits in girls who have circumcised while still in school and found that they seldom concentrate on their class work.
“When they come to school, they feel they are not part of those who have not circumcised. They feel mature and should not be in company of others,” said the teacher.
Several community-based organizations including major NGOs like World Vision and Emayian graced the occasion.
There is a common belief among those who practice FGM in Kajiado that if the clitoris of a girl is not cut, it will continue growing to the knee.
Others belief that if the clitoris in not cut, it will harm the baby during delivery, while others claim if a woman is not cut her genital will smell.