Female genital mutilation in Kenya, and Africa by extension, still remains one of the worst forms of violence against women. What’s even worse is the fact that this cruelty is being perpetrated on girls who are as young as five years.
Although there have been increased efforts to campaign against this vice, many girls and women in general continue to suffer in silence. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 125 million females alive today across the world have undergone FGM. They further estimate that about 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM every year.
According to a report published by WHO, Africa tops the list of countries where female genital mutilation is rampant. The report estimates that about 90% of women who undergo FGM in countries like Nigeria, Mali, Eritrea and Ghana are below the age of five.
This study further indicates that FGM is widespread in countries within the Central and West African region. But why does it still occur?
Reasons for Continued Violation
According to Hilary Burrage, a renowned sociologist, author and blogger, female genital mutilation is still rampant due to a number of reasons. She highlights retrogressive traditions and beliefs as the main cause of continued violation of young girls through FGM.
“In some communities FGM is seen as a rite of passage, an initiation to adulthood, occurring as the girl approaches puberty and becomes a woman,” Burrage claims.
She adds that some communities do it as a way of preserving family honor while others see it as a way to “cleanse” a girl. The latter reason comes from the belief that it is more hygienic and will stop unpleasant genital secretions and odors as the girl enters puberty.
Burrage also notes that “excision of the clitoris is ‘believed’ to reduce a woman’s sexual pleasure or desire, thus reducing the likelihood that she will become sexually active with anyone other than her husband.”