An assessment of the impact of health compaigns against female genital mutilation in west pokot district, Kenya
Lokurosia, Jackline Chepkech
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An estimated two million girls worldwide are at risk of experiencing genital mutilation every year of which the majority are young girls in 28 African countries. In Kenya, the practice is prevalent with 38% of women aged 15-49 years reporting being circumcised. The practice is nearly universal among the Kisii (97%) and Maasai (89%) and very common among Kalenjin (62%), Taita/Taveta (59%), Embu/Mere (54%), and to lesser extent among the Kikuyu (43%), Kamba (33%), and Mjikenda/Swahili (12%). Female Genital Mutilation causes irreversible, life-long health risks for girls and women, at the time of operation, during menstruation, consummation of marriage and during childbirth. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the impact of health campaigns on the community's practice of female circumcision through education, awareness campaigns and advocacy for alternative rites of passage. Simple random sampling technique was used to identify study subjects in the two purposively selected divisions namely, Chepareria (intervention site) and Sigor (control site). A total of 750 participants was randomly sampled comprising 375 household heads from each study site. Structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and interview guides were used to collect data on knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of the community on FGM and anti-FGM advocacy activities. The data collected were processed and analyzed using the computer Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Chi-square test for independence was used to establish associations in health knowledge, attitude and perception of anti-Female Genital Mutilation advocacy activities. The student t-test was also used to determine the differences between mean ages in the two study sites. The results of the study indicate differences in the knowledge of health risks, attitudes and practices of Female Genital Mutilation between the study sites. For instance, it was found out that the prevalence of female circumcision was significantly higher in the control site than in the intervention site 222.279; df 2; p<0.001). The result also showed that awareness of the health and social implication of the procedure on women was significantly higher among the respondents in the intervention site (x2 = 99.8192; df =3; p<0.001). This could be attributed to their participation in the anti -FGM campaigns. The results also revealed that awareness of anti-FGM advocacy activities (x2=32.1963, df = 1, p<0.001) and participation (x2 _ 49.230; df = 1; p<0.05) were statistically significant between the study sites. Similarly, awareness of the alternative rite of passage ((x2= 188.140; df = 1, p<0.001), involvement ((x2 = 21.890; df = 4; p<0.001) and adoption (x2= 13.040; df = 1, p<0.001) showed significant difference. This reveals that more households in intervention site participate in anti-FGM activities than those in control site. Future plans to circumcise daughters ((x2 26.580; df = 1; p = <0.001) and willingness to stop the practice (x2 26.860; df == 2; p<0.001) also showed a significant difference indicating that families in the intervention site were abandoning the practice. The study concludes that exposure to and dissemination of information on the social, psychological and health risks of the practice on girls and women has impacted on the community's beliefs and practices about FGM. The study recommends that campaigns against female circumcision should be integrated in the social and economic development initiatives that particularly focus on women's empowerment.
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