“WHY WE WILL NOT ABANDON FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, AT LEAST NOT YET…”
In Loruko, a small village 60 kilometers east of Isiolo town largely inhabited by the Samburu community, Female Genital Mutilation is still widely practiced. This dangerous and harmful cut is a deep rooted cultural practice, which the residents do not believe will be done away with, at least not in the near future.
Jamana, a Samburu elder speaking during the Anti-FGM sensitization forum organized by Inter-Religious Council of Kenya( IRCK) explained that the Female Circumcision is an initiation rite among the Samburu community and therefore cannot be abandoned , “ In our culture, a male is “born” thrice…before the age of 12 years he is a child…at the age of 12-15 years he is “reborn” to be a protector of the community ( moran)…and at about 25 years he marries and is “reborn” as an elder…As for the female, they are “born” twice…her childhood i.e. before 12 years, and at the age of 12 years she is circumcised and married off…this is the way of our people, nobody can marry a girl who is not circumcised”.
A female participant during the during the Anti-FGM sensitization forum held in Loruko cited that “uncircumcised samburu women cannot be married by a Samburu…even after she gives birth her kids will never be married by a Samburu…she and her offspring will be outcasts, cursed… Moreover, girls who are not circumcised are not respected by their peers and the community members at large…it is our custom, we cannot abandon it. Female circumcision is a cultural rite, and any girl who goes against it loses her identity and belongingness as a Samburu woman…”
Mzee Kipishi, a Samburu elder, observed that while the Community is ready to listen to the ills of the FGM practice, change may only come later, much later. He recommends a long term campaign against FGM amongst the Samburu community “we have been doing this since the times of our ancestors...it is very difficult to leave this custom…As a Samburu if my daughter is not circumcised then I am not considered a Samburu…if you say, we leave this deep rooted cultural practice… then what we need is a lot of sensitizations and over a long period of time, may be even 10 years”.
Sheikh Ahmed Set, Chariman Isiolo Interfaith Network, who was present during the Anti-FGM forum, explained that all the major faiths only encourage male circumcision and not female circumcision. He urged the participants to heed the call of religion and abandon the harmful practice.