Female genital mutilation/cutting among the Wardei of Kenya: practice, effects, and prospects for alternative rites of passage
Sifuna, Daniel N.
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This study focuses on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) with the aim of establishing the rationale, outcomes, and challenges it presents to the girls and their families, and whether there is scope for developing alternative rites of passage. The study established that the major purpose of FGM/C among the Wardei was to control the initiates' sexuality before marriage. It poses serious risks to their health, including the possibility of bleeding to death. The practice affects Wardei girls' access to and participation in education as initiates normally take a long time to heal, and it also bestows on them a status superior to that of teachers who have not undergone circumcision. The study established that the Wardei community is willing to adapt or abandon their traditional practices as part of social change stemming from modernization and in response to international pressure. But eliminating FGM/C among the Wardei community would require comprehensive and sustained advocacy, sensitization, and public education by various groups, including religious and community leaders, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and community-based organizations. This intervention must target various groups-girls, boys, younger women, older women, and fathers-who have different perceptions of and interest in FGM/C.