Women forced to get cut by husbands

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 00:00 | By
FGM in Kenya. PHOTO/Courtesy

 Lucy Njoki* from Murang’a county says she was forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by her husband. 

The two had been together for more than 10 years, before he, one day, came up with the proposal for her undergo the cut.

Njoki was surprised as she deemed the practice primitive and outdated. She tried to convince him to change his stand, but he was adamant. 

He insisted the cut would make her a ‘complete woman,’ failure to which their marriage would be terminated.

Reluctantly, Njoki went for the cut in a bid to save her marriage.  Unfortunately, things did not go her way. Her husband took in a new wife barely three years later. 

“He said he no longer wants to have me as a wife, chased me away and remarried,” she said.

Worried about stigmatisation from the community, she relocated to a new community to start a new life.  

 “I moved out of the area and rented a house in a different place where people knew nothing about me” she said.

She describes FGM as the worst procedure for a woman to go through as it demeans her dignity as a woman.

“I fought hard to accept my situation, but it’s not easy to cope with the psychological trauma one gets after,” she said.

Njoki is not the only woman to have faced such a situatio. Recently, a middle-aged woman from Kandara reported that she had also been forced to undergo the cut.

Her husband of 12 years wanted her circumcised because his faith does not allow him to live with an uncircumcised woman.

She believes he had joined one of the cultural groups in the area promoting the outdated practice. 

Agnes Maraga deputy director at International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) said a majority of men from Mt Kenya region who have joined cultural groups are the ones bringing back this practice.  

“Men are duping women to undergo the cut in the name of culture and this is not acceptable,” she said.

Several cases have been reported from Murang’a and the organisation is investigating them to pursue justice for the victims.

Dr Samuel Kimani from Africa Coordinating Centre for Abandonment of FGM at the University of Nairobi said reports of elder women being circumcised should be a concern for stakeholders as this would give rise to new cases. 

A woman who has been circumcised is likely to make her daughters go through the same.

Some health hazards of FGM include excessive bleeding, which could lead to death, infections which has spread to internal organs, difficulty during child birth and psychological torture to the victims due to stigmatisation and discrimination. 

Cut of choice

According to Dr Kimani, FGM is categorised in four classes depending on how it is carried out. Type one is clitoridectomy, which involves removal of the clitoris.

The second is an incision where the clitoris and labia minora are removed and the third is infibulation, where the clitoris, inner and outer lips are removed and the edges stitched together leaving a very small opening to pass the urine.

Type four involves a simple procedure such as piercing the private parts, a proceedure many women are currently opting for as it is less painful and have minimal side effects.

Interestingly, state security agents claim they are yet to receive formal report from community members.

Murang’a county commissioner Fredrick Ndunga said no aspect of FGM can be linked to the cultural groups in the area, and that they are alert to pursue any report and arrest and charge the culprits.

Agnes Pareiyo the Anti-FGM Board’s chair said the practice is creeping back in the region despite numerous efforts to fight it. 

“We shall work together with the security agents, administration officers, teachers and elders in creating awareness about the vice and also pursue the perpetrators.

People need to understand that FGM has no health benefits and it’s the worst form of human right violation against women” said Agnes.

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