Health> Vol.6 No.15, August 2014

Female Genital Cut in Relation to Its Value and Health Risks among the Kisii of Western Kenya

DownloadDownload as PDF (Size:2554KB)  HTML    PP. 2066-2080  

ABSTRACT

Background: The practice of female genital cutting as a cultural obligation is widespread in Kenya but there is little consensus about its effects on health. Some of the health risks associated with female genital cut range from minor and short-term to major and long-term effects including pain, bleeding, infections, and, in the extreme, death. Female genital cut is widespread among the Kisii but there is no adequate information about how it is currently practised and the value people attach to it. Objective: The objective was to establish the value of female genital cut as well as the health risks associated with the practice among the Kisii community of western Kenya. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study, which employed a mixed method approach to generate both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data were obtained from a randomly selected sample of 373 respondents while quantitative data were generated from focus group discussions as well as key informants interviews. Results: The Kisii consider female genital cut a cultural identifier inherited from past generations and whose main value is a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood. Majority (63%) had heard of the health risks associated with female genital cut including transmission of infections, excessive bleeding and pain. But most of the community did not seem to know the long-term health consequences associated with female genital cut. Even though knowledge on the campaigns to eradicate the practice was found to be wide spread, the community’s response toward the campaigns was less than positive. Conclusions: The authors conclude that female genital cut continues to persist in this community because of its value as a rite of passage, which currently has no substitute. This cultural demand by far outweighs the health risks associated with female genital cut, which are being mitigated through medicalization of the practice. For intervention programmes to succeed a more culturally sensitive campaign that is acceptable or appropriate alternative rite of passage is required.

Cite this paper

Okemwa, P. , Maithya, H. and Ayuku, D. (2014) Female Genital Cut in Relation to Its Value and Health Risks among the Kisii of Western Kenya. Health, 6, 2066-2080. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.615240.

References

[1] World Health Organization (1998) Female Genital Mutilation: An Overview. World Health Organization, Geneva.
[2] Gachiri, E.W. (2000) Female Circumcision, with Reference to the Agikuyu of Kenya. Paulines Publishers, Nairobi.
[3] World Health Organization (1997) Female Genital Mutilation: A Joint WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA Statement. World Health Organization, Geneva.
[4] Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and ICF Macro (2010) Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-2009. KNBS and ICF Macro, Calverton.
[5] PATH/MYWO (2000) Final Evaluation Report on Eliminating the Practice of FGM: Awareness Raising and Community Change in Four Districts of Kenya. Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization, Nairobi.
[6] Njue, C. and Askew, I. (2005) Medicalization of Female Genital Cutting among the Abagusii in Nyanza Province. United States Agency for International Development, Nairobi.
[7] The United Nations (2014) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The United Nations, New York.
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
[8] The United Nations (2014) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The United Nations, New York.
http://www.hrcr.org/docs/CEDAW/cedaw.html
[9] The United Nations (2014) Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The United Nations, New York.
[10] The United Nations (2014) The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The United Nations, New York.
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/48/a48r104.htm
[11] World Health Organization (2001) Female Genital Mutilation: A Student’s Manual. Department of Gender and Women Health, WHO, Geneva.
[12] World Health Organization (2001) Female Genital Mutilation Policy Guidelines for Nurses and Midwives. World Health Organization, Geneva.
[13] Government of Kenya (1999) National Plan of Action for the Elimination of FGM in Kenya 1999-2019. Ministry of Health, Nairobi.
[14] World Health Organization (1979) Seminar on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, Khartoum, Sudan, 10-15 February 1979. World Health Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Alexandria.
[15] Shell-Duncan, B. and Hernlund, Y. (2001) Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Dimensions of the Practice and Debates. In: Shell-Duncan, B. and Hernlund, Y., Eds., Female Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change, Lynne Rienners Publishers, Boulder, 1-40.
[16] Momanyi, D.M. (2001) Female Circumcision among the Abagusii People in Kenya. African Herald Publishing House, Kendu Bay.
[17] Olenja, J.M. (2002) A Situation Analysis on the Status of Female Genital Mutilation Eradication in Kenya: A Literature Review. National Focal Point on FGM, Nairobi.
[18] Akama, J.S. and Maxon, R. (2006) Ethnography of the Gusii of Western Kenya: A Vanishing Cultural Heritage. Edwin Mellen Press, New York.
[19] Gwako, E.L.M. (1995) Continuity and Change in the Practice of Clitoridectomy in Kenya: A Case-Study of Abagusii. Journal of Modern African Studies, 33, 333-337.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X00021108
[20] Ahmadu, F. (2001) Rites and Wrongs: An Insider/Outsider Reflects on Power and Excision. In: Shell-Duncan, B. and Hernlund, Y., Eds., Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, 283-312.
[21] Standard Team (2004) Traditional Circumcisers Taken to Court. The East Africa Standard.
[22] Edward, K. and Peter, N. (2006) Suspect Held as Two Girls Die after the Cut. The Daily Nation.
[23] Mose, G.B. (1997) Abagusii Female Circumcision and Its Impact on Women’s Role in Society. M.A. Dissertation, Nairobi University, Nairobi.
[24] Government of Kenya (2002) Kisii Central District Development Plan (2002-2008). Ministry of Finance and Planning, Nairobi. By GOK 2002.
[25] Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2010) The 2009 Population and Housing Census. Vol. 1, Government Printer, Nairobi.
[26] Silberschmidt, M. (1999) Women Forget that Men Are the Masters: Gender Antagonism and Socio-Economic Change in Kisii District, Kenya. Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, German.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2014 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.