Kenya's Maasai and Samburu changing into ladies with out FGM

Massai community members hold banners with messages, such as
Ladies in vibrant attire dance and sing whereas holding candles that gentle up their smiling faces. “Extinguish the sunshine of [FGM]. Kindle the sunshine of training,” they sing as they carry their candles. These ladies of a Maasai group in Magadi, southern Kenya, are coming into their grownup lives by means of a brand new ceremony designed to desert a convention that has injured so many earlier than.

Though feminine genital mutilation (FGM) has been outlawed in Kenya since 2001, a majority of ladies of semi-nomadic tribes just like the Maasai and Samburu nonetheless bear this painful and damaging ritual.

In line with the Kenya Demographic Family Survey of 2014, some 78 p.c of Maasai ladies and 86 p.c of Samburu ladies between the ages of 15 and 49, have been mutilated, whereas for Kenya’s common inhabitants the determine for FGM stands at 21 p.c.

9 years in the past, the NGO Amref Well being Africa began coaching peer trainers amongst all age teams in Maasai and Samburu communities – elders, younger males, moms, and younger ladies – on the implications of FGM. Along with a number of communities, the organisation developed the technique referred to as an Various Ceremony of Passage and now already greater than 13,300 Maasai and Samburu ladies have prevented FGM.

“To start with we confronted lots of resistance,” Peter Nguura, undertaking supervisor of Amref Well being Africa, advised Al Jazeera.

“However step-by-step, and beginning with the engagement of the cultural elders as the important thing choice makers within the communities, we managed to create a conducive ambiance of belief and confidence to debate these culturally delicate points and significant and fruitful dialogue is now happening led by the group leaders themselves.”

Alice, 63, didn’t wish to be a part of the coaching to start with. She, as a conventional cutter, was proud to be the one to assist ladies to change into a lady. “‘Who’re you to vary our tradition?’ have been my first ideas,” she advised Al Jazeera.

“However I modified my thoughts after I realized that FGM could cause severe medical issues that may even be life threatening.”