A case study on Female genital mutilation Essay Example

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А саsе study on Fеmаlе genital mutilation

А саsе study on Fеmаlе genital mutilation


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that is also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision. It simply means the ritual extraction of the outer female genital organ (in part or all). FGM is a negative procedure practiced in various parts of the world for instance the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It is also seen in communities from nations in which FGM is appreciated. The practice is done at different ages depending on a community. The procedures used differ depending on the ethnic group or country. Some of them include the extraction of the interior labia and the extraction of the glans associated with the clitoris and clitoral hood among others. FGM is founded in gender inequality, beliefs about beauty and modesty as well as attempts to control the sexuality of women (Abusharaf, 2013). This piece of paper gives a critical examination of the concept of FGM and various aspects associated with it. However, much emphasis will be on Kenya as a case study. Some of the areas of concern include the prevalence of the practice, the reasons behind the practice, the effects of FGM and interventions involved in eradicating FGM among communities.

Fеmаlе genital mutilation practices in Kenya

According to Gupta (2013), FGM is mostly carried out in Africa (about 27 countries) plus Indonesia, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan. Other nations could also be carrying out FGM even if it is not widely spread. Kenya is among the African nations whereby female circumcision is widely undertaken among some communities. According to Oloo and Newell-Jones (2011), between 100 and 140 million females have go through circumcision and currently live with the consequences, with most of them being in African countries.

It is a positive move to note that there has been a downward trend when it comes to prevalence of FGM in different parts of the world. For instance, the rate in Egypt fell from 97 percent in 1985 to 70 percent in 2015, Burkina Faso from 89 percent in 1980 to 58 percent in 2010 and Kenya from 41 percent in 1984 to 11 percent in 2014 (Toubia & Sharief, 2003).
Oloo and Newell-Jones (2011) also indicates that the overall occurrence of female cutting in Kenya is declining. In 2008, about 27 percent of girls and women had been circumcised compared to 32 percent in 2003 and 38 percent in 1998. Also, the percentage of females that go through circumcision is bigger amongst elder females compared to the younger ones. This is a further indication that the prevalence of FGM is decreasing especially in Kenya. Despite the fact that the practice is still being practiced, the decline indicated by the statistics is impressive and with implementation of effective measures and strategies, there is hope that the situation could turn for the better.

The Kuria and Kisii communities in Kenya will be the main focus of this paper. Among the Kuria, FGM is still a public event that is widely celebrated. It is a practice that is stipulated by the rulings of the elders who make up the community’s Council, which stipulates when the cutting ought to be done. On the other hand, FGM among the Kisii people is practised in secret as a family affair and no public celebration is held. These two communities adore FGM and the girls and women who participate in the practice are rewards with gifts. In addition, they are considered more socially acceptable and more appropriate when it comes to marriage. It is also worth noting that in these communities, the girls and women who are not circumcised often experience stigmatization, ridicule as well as isolation by the wider community (Oloo and Newell-Jones, 2011). The situation is even worse when the uncircumcised are uneducated.

There are various reasons as to why various communities participate in FGM practices. It is for instance seen as a ceremony or practice through which individuals transit from girlhood to womanhood and hence a crucial phase of life. When a woman undergoes circumcision, she is considered obedient, mature and someone who understand their duties and responsibilities in a family set up and the community at large. Female circumcision is also taken as a way through which the sex desires of the females are reduced hence reducing premarital sex and enhancing faithfulness within the marriage institution. In some communities, FGM is considered to be an indication of beauty, modesty as well as purity. Support from renowned women also makes other girls and women accept FGM without resisting. The said women cite some of the following reasons; social acceptance, hygiene, marriageability, preservation of virginity and enhanced male sexual pleasure among others. Some also think that FGM is a religious requirement. FGM is generally instigated and done by women who take it as a practice that make those involved to be honoured and hence dread that if the female in their lineage are not circumcised, they stand a chance of suffering from social exclusion (Abusharaf, 2013).

FGM is associated with numerous complications. The health of those involved could be affected negatively. Depending on the procedure involved, one could suffer from persistent infections, unending pain, infertility, cysts, difficulty in urination and passing menstrual flow, serious bleeding and complications during childbirth among others (Gupta, 2013). It is also important to note that female cutting have no health benefits and hence the need to do away with the practice.

Chege, Askew & Liku (2001) argue that as a result of the negative effects that are linked with FGM, there have been local and international efforts aimed at persuading the practitioners to stop FGM. The United Nations has also been in the forefront in advocating for the abandoning of the practice all over the world based on the fact that it has no benefits but rather a health risk. It has for instance advised healthcare providers to stop undertaking any form of the procedure, including those that the communities consider a must such as the symbolic nicking of the clitoral hood and reinfibulation after childbirth. In Kenya, various parties and forces have been against FGM. Opposition for this practice can be traced way back in colonial era whereby protestant missionaries campaigned against FGM in beginning of the 20th century. For example, in communities like Kikuyu which is the country’s main ethnic group, circumcision was practiced for both boys and girls. It was deemed an essential practice such that women who did not partake of it were considered outcasts. Even today, FGM is still practiced among the kikuyu and other ethnic groups such as Kuria, Kisii and Maasai although the prevalence is on the decline.

Beginning with the Church of Scotland mission in the early 20th century, various missionary churches proclaimed that African Christians were not to participate in FGM practices. According to the Church of Scotland mission, Africans that would practice FGM would be excommunicated. This is a step that resulted in many doing away with the practice. Other groups and councils also came forward against FGM and although people could still do it, the rate decreased as they could not do it in the open. Other interventions that could be implemented with an aim of reducing the rate of FGM include training of healthcare experts to be change the mindset of the populations, community-based strategies, legal measures and alternative rituals among others. Oloo and Newell-Jones (2011) assert that some of the interventions that have been utilized in Kenya include promotion of girl’s education and empowerment programmes, health risk practice approaches, different rites of passage, education and offering other sources of revenue to those involved in circumcising the women and addressing FGM through religion among others.

Chege, Askew & Liku (2001) argue that alternative rite of passage is among the interventions used in Kisii and Kuria to curb the vice of FGM. It entails raising community awareness, working in collaboration with healthcare providers and schools and village and spiritual leaders. To a large extent, this approach has been successful especially in Kisii. Nonetheless, it is advisable for reinforcement of the strategy by making all the stakeholders especially the leaders aware of what the programme entails and the benefits that they would enjoy by fully embracing it.

It is noteworthy that female cutting has been forbidden in many nations where it is practiced but the laws are usually not appropriately imposed, an aspect that makes it easy for those involved to bend the laws. Some of the legal aspects that govern FGM or try to prohibit it in Kenya include a national plan of action for the elimination of FGM which covers the period between 1999 and 2019, by the Ministry of Health that had goals and strategies aimed at the same. There is also the children’s Act, which works by making female genital mutilation illegal for girls who are below 18 years (Oloo and Newell-Jones, 2011).


From the above discussion, it is clear that FGM, as a cultural practice, is linked with various aspects. It is a practice that is done in Kenya and other parts of the world for various reasons such as support from renowned women, social obligation and religion. It is a practice that has its own fair of challenges and complications especially on the health of those involved. For this reason, there have been campaigns from different organs aimed at eradicating the practice and freeing the women from the negative effects associated with FGM.


Abusharaf, R. M. (Ed.). (2013). Female circumcision: multicultural perspectives. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Chege, J. N., Askew, I., & Liku, J. (2001). An assessment of the alternative rites approach for encouraging abandonment of female genital mutilation in Kenya. New York: US Agency for International Development.

Gupta, G. R. (2013). Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change. Reproductive Health Matters, 21(42), 184-190.

Oloo, H., Wanjiru, M., & Newell-Jones, K. (2011). Female genital mutilation practices in Kenya: the role of alternative rites of passage: a case study of Kisii and Kuria districts.

Toubia, N. F., & Sharief, E. H. (2003). Female genital mutilation: have we made progress?. International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, 82(3), 251-261.